Preparing for telephone, online and video interviews

Live online interviews (Zoom, Teams or other webinar platforms)

This type of interview is becoming increasingly common and should be prepared for the same as all other interviews. Here are some additional pointers for live online interviews:

  • Make sure you have set up the webcam and microphone correctly and you know how they work. Make sure you speak loudly and clearly.
  • Check the picture of yourself is clear. You should be in a brightly lit room, and if there is daylight it is better to face the window.
  • Pick a place where you will be undisturbed to conduct the video interview and ensure you have a clutter-free, plain backdrop.
  • Make sure your webcam lens is at eye-level so you are not looking up or down too much, look directly at the camera and smile frequently throughout. You may need to raise your laptop up on some books so the camera is pointed straight at you, rather than have tilted screen.
  • Your webcam should be far enough away so the picture of yourself includes your head and shoulders. Wearing formal interview attire is expected.
  • Feel free to use hand gestures as normal, as this may improve your conversational flow.
  • You may want to prepare some brief notes, or stick some post-it notes on the wall behind your computer screen regarding key interview topics. However these should be a quick visual aid to jog your memory, and you should not read from notes when answering the questions.

Recorded video interviews

Make sure you read your interview instructions carefully to check if there is a live interview panel who you will interact with or if it is a recorded video interview. For recorded video interviews all the guidance for online interviews above should be observed, alongside the following guidance:

  • For a recorded interview the employer will have a standard set of questions and you will be instructed to login to their online video portal in your own time.
  • As you choose when you want to record the video make sure to select a time when you are feeling fresh and full of energy.
  • You will usually have around 30 seconds to 1 minute to prepare, and a few minutes to answer for each question, although timings vary.
  • You may be able to practise first and/or re-record your answers. However, in most cases, (as with face-to-face interviews) you will only have one chance to get your answers right.
  • Do not begin answering aloud until your time to answer countdown has begun or your answer may not be counted. On the other hand do not panic if you get cut off at the end and have not completely finished delivering your answer, take a breath and move onto the next question with high energy
  • It may feel odd not speaking to a real person, but remember a real person will be reviewing your answers, so speak as if there is someone there.
  • When viewing video interviews, recruiters tend to pay particular attention to body language, tone of voice and 'personality', so ensure you are comfortable and relaxed.
  • How you deliver your answer is as important as the content of your answer, so make sure you deliver with conviction, passion and enthusiasm.

Telephone interviews

Telephone interviews are used less frequently now, with online interviews being preferred. If you do have an interview on the telephone most of the guidance remains the same, although more importance is placed upon the tone and intonation of your voice and the rhythm of the conversation. Smiling can be heard on the phone as it alters the shape of the mouth and sound. Some people find it helpful to dress smartly to increase the feeling of formality.