Skype and telephone interviews

Frances wasn’t sure her Skype interview was going well.

Was it something about her posture?

This last academic year 2011/12 we have seen a massive increase in the amount of  first interviews being conducted by phone and recently by Skype.

  • It’s a quick and effective way for recruiters to have an initial chat to you to see if they want to take your application further.
  • It’s cheaper for you – no travel costs.

This is what you need to know.

Telephone interviews:

  • Can be exactly the same as any first interview so prepare accordingly.
  • Some telephone interviews may be a preliminary screening interview and you may be speaking to someone in HR or a recruitment agent who is simply asking you a list of questions and recording your answers. These can feel quite impersonal and a little stilted with long pauses. Don’t worry just answer the questions and wait for the next one.
  • Mobile signals are really variable so ensure you have a strong reliable signal where you intend to have your interview. Make sure it is a quiet private space if at all possible. If you have a land line – use it!
  • Remember they can’t see you so you need to speak clearly, show enthusiasm in your voice and explain long pauses. (e.g. I’d just like to take a moment to think about that.)
  • You can have your CV/application and notes to hand to help you remember points you want to raise or examples you want to use. Avoid scripting your responses though, it sounds unnatural and you will get flustered if the interviewer interrupts.


If you are a regular Skype user then this will be natural to you.  It is worth remembering a few pointers though.

  • Think about what is going on behind you – a plain wall with no poster is probably best.
  • What about sound levels – how sensitive is the microphone on your laptop or webcam? You need to be clearly audible but you don’t want to pick up external noise.

New to skype?

  • It’s basically a video phone, its free, and its easy to set up.
  • If you are using a laptop or ipad you probably have an internal webcam and microphone. If you are using an older laptop or desktop pc you may need to get a webcam and a headphone.
  • Download the appropriate Skype tools for your device
  • When you register make sure you use an appropriate user name.  You cannot change your user name once you register it nor can you delete it.  So if you have a private account you do not want to share with a recruiter (bimbo@fluffybunny.) You will need to create a new account with a new email address.
  • It’s advisable to make sure you are signed out of Skype if you do not want to be called when you are not expecting it.
  • Make sure you have a strong WiFi connection.
  • Practice Skyping with friends – try out some of the features like instant messaging in Skype and sharing documents.  This way you will be prepared for whatever the interviewer does.

Remember they can see you so make sure you are dressed for an interview!

What will I be asked?

Hard to say exactly by I would bet on something around the following:

Motivational questions – to find out if you REALLY want the job and know what it is all about. Also commercial awareness – do you understand the nature of the business / sector?

  • Why did you choose your degree
  • Why do you want to work for “fill in company name here”?
  • Why are you interested in working in “fill in role here”?

Skills / competancy /strength based questions

  • Check your application form – what did they ask you about there?
  • Check the job description or recruiters website – what skills are they asking for?
  • Have examples of times when you used those skills fresh in your memory.

For more on interview questions and how to answer them check out our website, download the guide and watch the videos.

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