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Phone/Video Interview Tips

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The following is information provided by Kristen Connor from the Stanford Career Center (BEAM).


Phone/Video interviews are typically "screening" tools in which organizations interview a large selection of candidates, checking to see who possesses the necessary skills and qualities. Upon completion, a smaller number of candidates will be invited to participate in in-person interviews. Additionally, phone/video interviews are used if the organization is too far away for candidates to visit in-person. For internships, phone/video interviews may be the only method of interviewing.

Phone Interview Do’s…

  • Be prepared for employers to call at any time (ie. early morning)
  • Reschedule for another time, if initial call is bad timing (ie. going to class, meeting, etc.)
  • Have your resume and any other helpful notes/accomplishments in front of you during the interview
  • Use your voice to show enthusiasm (and any other emotion you might express through non-verbals). Smile, it actually changes the tone of your voice!
  • Project your voice clearly and enunciate. Stand if you feel it would be helpful for voice projection or nerves
  • Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you did not hear it or if you need clarification
  • Remember to use the STAR method when answering questions so your responses will be detailed and efficient
  • Make sure that your environment is quiet and free of distractions
  • Use a land line phone if possible
  • Establish how to reconnect if using a cell phone and the call is dropped
  • Dress up if that helps with your mental preparation
  • Have a pen and paper handy for note taking
  • Keep a glass of water handy, in case your mouth becomes dry

Phone Interview Don’ts…

  • Read your resume or other information verbatim
  • Eat, drink, or chew gum
  • Yawn into the phone
  • Walk around the room with the phone
  • Put the employer on hold, unless it’s an emergency

Video Interview Do’s…

  • Make sure your camera and microphone work well (test with a friend)
  • Have an inviting background behind you while on video – some solid colors or wood tones (no posters or other distractions)
  • Establish how to reconnect if the session is dropped
  • Look at the camera (vs. the screen) as much as possible during the interview
  • Try to have the camera/screen eye level (or as close to it as possible) so you won’t be at an awkward angle on the interviewers screen
  • Light your space properly so you are seen clearly
  • Turn off any phones or other devices that might cause noise during the interview
  • Put your hands on the desk or table in front of you to frame the picture for the viewer
  • Make sure your computer is fully charged and ideally plugged in during the interview
  • Have a professional or neutral video account name – no “partyanimal21”

Video Interview Don’ts…

  • Fidget or play with papers. You never know what can really be seen or heard.
  • Sit in a chair that swivels
  • Turn your head away while talking. It is unlikely your microphone will be able to pick up your voice.
  • Don’t allow anyone in your room/space during the interview
  • Wear white on top or large pattern clothes which can be hard to see or distracting for the viewer

Note for the OCT when conducting a mock phone interview:

To simulate a phone interview, turn your chair backs to each other. Recognize an increased need to pay attention to volume (speak louder), speed (speak slower), conveying emotion (still smile; they will be able to tell), and using signposts (“In summary, that is my view about…”). Subtle body language ways of communicating will be lost.