Job interviews are stressful and only made worse when technology enters the mix. You want to present yourself as professional, knowledgeable, and poised, but that’s easier said than done while battling a noisy environment, spotty wi-fi, or malfunctioning headphones. Technological failures and poor planning are enough to ruin a good candidate’s chances of landing the job.
Phone and video interviews are typically used to screen candidates before bringing them in for an in-person interview. A technical recruiter told Jobscan, “If someone can’t really hold a conversation on the phone, they’re probably not going to move forward in the interview process.”
You should be focused on being engaging and showing off your qualifications. Here’s how to make sure technology doesn’t get in the way of a successful phone or video interview.
How to Prepare for a Phone Interview
It’s simple, but the most important thing you can do prior to a phone interview is to make sure your phone battery is sufficiently charged, you have strong reception, and your volume is working properly.
Next, decide ahead of time on a quiet space with minimal echo where you can take the interview. While it might be tempting, do not take a phone interview in your car while driving or while walking around outside. Outside noises can be distracting and will seem unprofessional and rude to the recruiter or hiring manager.
Jobscan Marketing Manager, Christina Everett, remembers interviewing a candidate who whispered throughout the entire interview as not to disturb others in her current place of employment.
If you have to take an interview during the work day and are currently employed, consider renting a time slot at a coworking space or scoping out a quiet coffee shop or private room in a public library.
Since you’ll be using your phone during the interview, be sure to have written notes or a laptop, iPad, or second device on which you can pull up company information and reference the research and questions you’ve prepared ahead of time (which you should do, by the way). The sound of typing on your phone while talking can be distracting and unprofessional to the recruiter. Besides, you’ll feel more prepared having everything you need readily available.
How to Prepare for a Video Interview
First, make sure you have a laptop or desktop with which to take the video interview. Even though you might have used it a thousand times, take a few minutes prior to the interview to make sure the video and audio functionality is working properly.
Just like when preparing for a phone interview, you should scope out a professional space for your video interview ahead of time. The space that you choose should be quiet, have excellent internet connection, and a tidy background. If you have pets or children, be sure they are taken care of and as quiet as possible.
“I had a candidate once interview in what was obviously his basement. There were towels hanging over a door behind him, he was blurry over camera and didn’t look prepared,” said Everett.
Avoid awkward video interview experiences by turning on your camera pre-interview to get a good look at the lighting, background, and camera angle. As a general rule, don’t show off your bed, messy sheets, or inappropriate posters. Prop your camera up so it is level with your face or pointed downward toward your face. A flattering angle will make you feel more confident and prevent fidgeting mid-interview.
When taking an interview over video, you should make sure your appearance is not distracting by dressing professionally and making sure your hair and overall appearance is in order, just as you would for an interview in person. Furthermore, just like an in-person interview, always be prepared with knowledge of the company, job position, and pre-written questions.
Is a video interview just not practical for you? Everett urges job seekers to feel comfortable requesting an alternative interview style if you don’t have the space or freedom during the workday to set up a professional video interview.
While phone and video interviews may feel informal, recruiters and hiring managers take them seriously. You should too. All interviews act as a first impression of your professional self to the company, regardless of format. Take the time to prepare for your phone or video interview with the same dedication you would any interview.