Phone, Video, and Meal Interviews

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

Phone Interviews

  • Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed. If interviewing in your room, let your suitemates know.
  • Set aside at least 60 minutes for so you have time to set-up the call and have extra time if the interviewer is running late.
  • Dress the part to get in the right mindframe and have a glass of water in case your mouth goes dry at a crucial moment.
  • 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 brief notes in front of you. What is the message you want to convey? Are there key pieces of your background that you want to highlight? Have note cards with bullet points outlining these.

Video Conferencing, Online, and Skype & Zoom Interviews

  • Plan well ahead of time the specific location where you take the call or video conferencing interview.
  • The 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.
  • Avoid backgrounds that are too bright or with poor lighting, as those will be distracting for your interviewer.
  • If you choose a place in your home, remove pets that could distract you and alert roommates that you will be interviewing.
  • Plan a test run. Ask a friend to test out your webcam and microphone, and get an objective opinion on the background and lighting.
  • Employers may use HireVue for their virtual interviews.  You can practice a HireVue interview and become more comfortable with the process.
  • If using Skype, make sure your profile and photo are professional.
  • Confirm the time, 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. 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.
  • At the conclusion of the interview, make sure to hang up and take yourself offline.

Reserve Space at the Office of Career Strategy for Remote Interviews

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Need a private space to have a remote interview with an employer? OCS offers an interview room for students seeking a quiet space for virtual interviews. Available weekdays from 9:15am-3:15pm when OCS is open. To sign up for a block of time (60-minutes for interview + 15-mins preparation), sign up by visiting the YCL homepage. Select ‘Advising & Calendar’ on the left toolbar, and from the drop-down select ‘Advising Appt’. Click the ‘Request New Appointment’ button and select ‘Virtual Interview Room’ in the drop-down as the ‘Appointment Type Requested’. Please bring all needed equipment, there is no phone or technical support. Swipe in at the front desk when you arrive to check in before entering the interview room.

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 could be controversial. Below are a few additional tips before your meal:

  • If you know where you’ll be eating, review the menu ahead of time to 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 of 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. 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, thanking them appropriately.

Career Resources


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New Haven, CT 06510


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