Many times, government agencies and other out-of-town employers will ask to conduct an initial interview via telephone. Additionally, Skype/videoconference interviews are becoming increasingly common. Below are a few tips on how to handle these types of interviews.
1. Get a quiet room with a desk or table where you can sit write. If it is on campus, make sure you have reserved it via proper channels and taped a sign to the door so you won’t be interrupted. PDO is happy to help you reserve a room.
2. Double check the phone or conference setup, if possible, to make sure it is working properly.
3. Double check the interview time—is is eastern, mountain, central? Nothing worse than realizing you slept through your phone interview because you misapprehended a time zone issue!
4. Dress professionally as you would for any interview—a suit unless you are told otherwise. This is a must for a Skype interview. It is also something to consider for a phone interview, if it will help you be in a professional mode. For Skype interviews, avoid busy patterns on your clothes. Be more attentive than normal about keeping hair out of your face—consider pulling it back. Check eyeglasses for glare. The folks on the other end will basically be seeing you from one angle, so bear that in mind. Make it as good an angle as possible.
5. Ensure you are not talking over the interviewer(s). This can be especially tricky on the phone where you cannot get visual clues from the interviewer. Just give them a half second longer than you might otherwise to be sure that they had completed their point or question before you start responding.
6. For Skype interviews, look at and talk to the camera—not something else (like a screen). You may want to practice technique this in advance so that you become used to it.
7. For phone interviews, you need to make sure that they can “hear” your smile and the enthusiasm in your voice. This is particularly true for those of you who come off as very reserved or serious in person. Such a characteristic will appear twice as strong in a phone interview, where they cannot see your smile, your eyes, or other facial expressions.
8. For phone interviews where there are multiple interviewers, take notes in the beginning on the names and make some attempt to track who is asking the questions or talking. It is probably normal in the beginning of the interview to get clarity on who is talking. “Is that you, Mr. Dixon? Ok. Well, I would say that my toughest class in law school has been Legal Methods, but in the end, it was also my favorite.”