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Phone, Video and Meal Interviews

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In a global job market, employers are using phone and web based interviews to connect with qualified candidates. Although preparing for the discussion part of the interview will be similar to an in person interview, there are a few additional tips to keep in mind.

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Phone Interviews

  • Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. If interviewing from your room, let your suite mates know you’ll be on a phone interview and ask them to be quiet.
  • Set aside at least 60 minutes for the call so you can spend time getting set-up prior to the call and have extra time in case the interviewer is running late.
  • Dress the part in order to get in the right frame of mind for the interview, and have a glass of water on hand in case your mouth goes dry at a crucial moment.
  • It is essential to express enthusiasm through your voice. Your vocal clarity, tone, volume and speed all matter. Express your ideas clearly and avoid speaking too fast. 
  • One benefit of phone interviews is that you can have notes in front of you. What is the message you really want to convey to your interviewers? Are there key pieces of your background that you want to make sure to highlight? Have note cards, with bullet points outlining these areas. 

Video Conferencing, On-line and Skype Interviews

  • Plan well ahead of time where you will have your interview.
  • Background is important, choose a place that will appear clean and professional on camera. A neutral, clutter free background is best; blank walls, though a bit boring, are preferable to a distracting background.
  • Consider the lighting and avoid backgrounds that are too bright, as that will be distracting for your interviewer, as well as settings with poor lighting.
  • If you choose a place in your home, be sure to remove any pets that could distract you and alert roommates that you will be on an interview.
  • Plan a test run. Ask a friend to Skype with you to test out your webcam and microphone, and to get an objective opinion on the background and lighting.
  • If using Skype, make sure your profile and photo are professional.
  • Confirm the time, including time zone, and access instructions. Have a back-up plan. Exchange phone numbers in advance in case there are technological problems.
  • Treat the interview as you would a face-to-face interview and dress appropriately. Though it may feel more casual, you need to look the part.
  • Close other programs/applications during the interview to avoid screen interruptions.
  • Throughout the interview, look at the camera, not at the screen. This is the equivalent of making eye contact with your interviewers. It is natural to glance at the screen from time to time to see the reaction of your interviewer, but spend most of the interview looking right at the webcam.
  • Smile and express your enthusiasm for the position. Sit up straight and make sure your body language mimics the enthusiasm and energy expressed in your voice.
  • Speak slowly as there may be a delayed connection. Avoid typing notes during the interview because keyboard sounds can be distracting, hand write your notes instead.
  • At the conclusion of the interview, make sure to hang up and take yourself offline.

Navigating Meals

Some second round interviews may include a lunch or dinner, particularly if the role to which you are applying involves interacting with clients, constituents, or donors in social settings. Although meals feel less formal than an in-office interview, it is still an interview and you are being evaluated. Meals are seen as an opportunity to get to know you and for you to get to know them. Avoid topics that are too personal, inappropriate, or may be controversial. Below are a few additional tips before your meal:

  • If you know in advance where you’ll be eating, review the menu and decide on a few options. This will allow you to engage your interviewers rather than read the menu.
  • When you arrive, ask your interviewers if they have any recommendations. This can give you an idea on the price point you should stay within. You can also let them order first, and choose something at that price point or less.
  • Consider what is easy to eat and avoid foods that may be messy. That cheeseburger may be just what you’re craving, but the greasy hands that result may not align with the professional image you’re trying to present. Usually something that can be cut in small pieces is the easiest to manage; keep in mind you will be talking while you eat.
  • Avoid ordering alcohol, even if your interviewer orders something to drink. You want to stay on top of your game and keep your head clear.
  • Just as important as what you say during a meal is the way you conduct yourself. Good table manners are a must. Shortly after being seated, put your napkin on your lap. Pay special attention to your posture, keep your elbows off the table, and always avoid speaking with your mouth full.
  • Courtesy and professionalism shouldn’t be limited to your interviewers; be polite to the wait staff and host, thanking them appropriately.