Telephone and Video Interviews – Part 1

This is a 2 part post. Part 1 – Telephone Interviews is posted below. Part 2 – Video Interviews will follow in 2 weeks.

In the current climate, it is increasingly common for candidates to look further afield in their job search. This can mean looking to relocate overseas for job opportunities. Some companies recognise they also need to look further afield and therefore need to interview these candidates. In the majority of cases, companies prefer to meet candidates face-to-face for interviews but this is sometimes simply not possible. Thankfully modern technology allows for some alternatives and this article aims to outline how to make the most of two of the most common methods: telephone and video interviews.


For both telephone and video interviews, you will have to demonstrate one key thing to clients. That is your commitment to moving over to work with them in another country. A client will want to understand what research you have done and how much you know about relocating. You MUST prepare for this because if a client feels that you’re simply seeing what is out there, they will not move forward with any further interviews. A lot of people simply say “I want to work in X” and then when questioned by clients about what they know about life in the country, they fall down quickly. Don’t be that person. If you want to relocate and go through the process of interviewing with firms internationally, do your research and then use the telephone and video interviews to really prove to the clients you want to move and can fulfil a role for them.

Part 1 – Telephone Interviews

This is not the preferred method for clients or candidates for interviews but has become increasingly used in this era of better communications. Generally a company will arrange to call a candidate at an assigned time (usually with big time differences taking into account) and will use the telephone conversation as an initial screening process. It is very unusual for a client to agree to hire only through telephone interviews instead relying on further video interviews or flying candidates out should the initial telephone conversation go well. Telephone interviews therefore tend to be slightly shorter ranging from 20-45 minutes long with most being around 30 minutes.

A telephone interview is notoriously difficult to get right. Both parties are unable to see each other and make use of the many visual signs (both body language etc) that face-to-face interviews present. Parties are relying solely on vocal communication and the candidate’s ability to talk through their experiences and aspirations effectively. It’s therefore important to practice talking through your CV and projects. You should prepare to speak about specific project examples going into detail where relevant and outlining your particular role. With a telephone interview it is even more important that you listen very carefully to any questions asked and answer them specifically. You have less time than an ordinary interview and therefore need to present as much relevant information as possible to the interviewer in the time available.

It’s still equally important to prepare for a telephone interview in the same manor as any other interview. Make sure you have researched the company and can use any key facts and figures you have memorised during the conversation. Without seeing you, the interviewer is going to need to be convinced to take the interview process forward. By demonstrating that you know something about them and are enthusiastic about working for them, you will stand a good chance of going to the next stages.

the telephonephoto © 2007 sam garza | more info (via: Wylio)

If you are interviewing for a design or projects role, a telephone interviewer may or may not have a selection of your work or a project list to look through in front of them. You may therefore be asked questions about these projects so it is important you remember what you sent through to them originally. Clients often ask for more examples at this point which you should send through at the conclusion of the interview.

As this is often an initial screening interview, clients can ask for details about current and expected salary. As with any interview it’s worth avoiding discussing this in detail for fear of overpricing or underselling yourself. By all means be honest about your current package but perhaps highlight that your expectations are open at this stage and can perhaps be revisited as the interview process moves forward and you both learn more about each other.

End the telephone interview on a positive note reiterating your interest in taking things forward whether it be with a video interview or in potentially flying over*.

One final note on telephone interviews – it is worth providing a couple of numbers for the company to contact you on should there be any communication problems. A land-line is generally the best option and gets around mobile reception issues and potential battery problems.

*A Quick Note on Flying Over for Interview.

Some companies will cover the cost of flights over for a candidate to interview. However, this is rare in the current climate and is generally only for senior appointments. Some companies will look for a level of commitment from a candidate and ask if they will fund a trip over for themselves. This would be regarded as a positive sign to the client. You really need to think carefully here. A flight and accommodation will require an investment from you and you need to remember that by flying over it does not guarantee that you will automatically secure a position. It certainly helps greatly but this is really a decision you need to think about carefully. If you have a few potential meetings lined up then it can be worth it or if you feel that one role is worth the risk then great. However I would only fully commit to a trip if you are guaranteed to be able to meet someone. I would of course always recommend a trip to your potential place of future residence to assess the environment if nothing else. A lot of candidates combine these trips with meeting companies thus killing two birds with one stone.

For some further tips on interviewing in general, please take a look at our other post Interviewing Basics.


7 Responses to Telephone and Video Interviews – Part 1

  1. Pingback: Telephone and Video Interviews – Part 2 « Ellicott Long's Blog

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