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Telephone & Video Interviews | The Careers Service Telephone & Video Interviews – Oxford University Careers Service
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Overview

Long-distance interviews are commonly used in the early stages of the recruitment process, and as far as possible you should treat them as you would any other interview. They may be “live” interviews with an interviewer – for example on Skype or by telephone – or may be pre-recorded questions that you answer on video for review by the firm at a later time. The most important fact to remember is that the employer wants to find out the same information as they would face-to-face, and the questions that you will be asked will be similar to those in a standard interview. As such, your preparation needs to be just as thorough.

Top tips

Getting ready

When readying yourself for a long-distance interview, ensure that you have:

  • Privacy for the interview, away from noise and distractions.
  • A decent connection! If it is a telephone interview it is best to use a landline, but if using a mobile make sure you are in an area with a good reception. If using a laptop or mobile phone for the interview, make sure that it is fully charged.
  • Your CV or application form available as a prompt, as well as some paper and a pen for making notes. Although be careful not to have too many materials in front of you that may become a distraction.
  • Dressed smartly. Even if you’re interviewing via telephone, don’t just sit in your pyjamas as this will affect your overall attitude.
Telephone Interviews

The main difference to any other interview is the lack of visual cues, but your body language is very important:

  • Sit up straight or even stand, as it will help you to project your voice effectively.
  • Smile! By smiling, you will sound friendlier and more confident.
  • Try to avoid monotones and use gestures as you would in a normal conversation; they will tend to make your voice sound livelier.
  • For key questions such as ‘What are your strengths?’ it may be useful to signpost the interview to indicate how you’ll be answering this question e.g. ‘I have three major strengths relevant to this role, the first is…’ This will help you structure your time and alerts the interviewer when you will be coming to the end of a question.

If there are any long silences after you have answered a question and you are not sure whether to continue, you can always ask ‘Would you like me to expand further on that?”.

If the employer calls you for an impromptu interview, you are within your rights to ask to schedule another time when you are in a better situation to talk.

Automated calls

Some organisations now use a fully-automated telephone interviewing system during the first round. You will receive an invitation to ring a free-phone number at a convenient time, at which point an automated system will ask you a series of questions, and your responses will be recorded. The time you take to respond to each question may be taken into account.

Skype interviews
  • Think about your setting and consider what will be seen on-camera during your interview.
  • Think about the image you project and how your clothing will be perceived.
  • Bear in mind the distance you sit from the camera.
  • Consider practising with a friend, asking them to feedback on how you and your surroundings appear on camera.
  • Consider your interaction with the interviewer, look into the camera (not the screen!) and take into account possible lags between the visual and audio. Follow visual cues from your interviewer so you don’t interrupt before a question has been completely asked.
  • Dial or log in at the correct time – arriving 10 minutes early works in person, but not for a virtual interview.
  • You should also have a backup plan (such as the correct phone number to call) in case your internet connection should suddenly go, or camera stops working!

It is possible to arrange Skype interviews at the Careers Service if you do not have your own facilities.

Pre-recorded video interviewing

If you are invited to a pre-recorded video interview, you will be sent a link in advance and will need to log-in to a system where there will be a series of pre-recorded questions to answer. This system means you do not have to travel to face-to-face interviews, and unlike a telephone interview allows you to communicate using body-language too. There is however, no opportunity for interactions with the interviewer.

There’s been a large jump in the prevalence of pre-recorded video interviewing in recent years. A recent Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) survey revealed that 42% of its members had used them. Employers including Accenture, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Clifford Chance, Goldman Sachs, Nestle, Shell and Unilever are using them in 2017/18.

Top Tips:

  • Consider the same advice given for Skype interviews with regard to presentation and preparation.
  • Speak clearly and enunciate – there is no opportunity for the interviewer to ask for clarification.
  • Often you will be able to pause the interview after you have answered one question and before you move onto the next. However, you are usually not allowed to pause after you have heard the question and before you start answering, so ensure you have done sufficient preparation in advance.
  • Usually, you are only given one shot at an answer. However, if you are allowed to make several attempts, try to get it right sooner rather than later; a big video interview provider has found that multiple attempts may begin to dilute a clear message.

 

This information was last updated on 09 August 2017.
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