The Pros and Cons of Interview Mediums: Telephone, Video & Face-to-Face

Having worked in recruitment for a number of years now, I’ve seen all kinds of interview feedback from the brilliant to the downright amusing (a particularly memorable one is a video interview where the interviewer could just see the candidate’s forehead…)

I therefore wanted to share my thoughts and tips on the most common types of interview, and the best way to prepare when trying to impress over the telephone, via video or during face-to-face to meetings. Hopefully this will serve as a helpful refresher on how best to address each step of the interview process…

Remember that each interview medium serves its own purpose, but they’re still all considered to be interviews! Do the same research for a telephone interview as you would for a face-to-face – it is no less important just because you aren’t physically there.

Interview Medium Pros

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 Telephone 1. Utilise your notes! Have a copy of your CV to hand, print the job specification, have the company website open on your laptop, bring up the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile, etc. There is no excuse for being underprepared!2. Make notes throughout the interview, and use this information to ask questions at the end. If you progress to the next stage, use this information to help you prepare.

3. You can be more flexible with times – participate from home / work / abroad, etc. However, don’t commit to a telephone interview if you are likely to be rushed or interrupted. I would also not advise doing it whilst driving – you won’t be able to have your research in front of you, you can’t pay full attention and it’s dangerous!

4. No cost of travel. Great if you have a number of interviews going on.

1. It is more difficult to build rapport over the phone. Although it sounds a little ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ – smile! It makes a big difference to how you sound.2. Telephone interviews are often shorter, so you have less time to sell yourself. Be concise as you have a lot of ground to cover. A common starter for telephone interviews is “tell me your ‘story’ in 5 minutes” – stick to the time allocated, and make sure you’ve rehearsed this. If you can’t articulate your experience in 5 minutes then you need to get practicing! This is one of the most common reasons why candidates don’t get past a phone screen – “it took them 20 minutes when I asked for 5”.

3. It sounds like an obvious one, but ensure you have signal. If you know that your reception is terrible at home or work, give a back-up number just in case. The interviewer may only have a 30 minute window to speak, so make sure you don’t miss any valuable time.

1. Be concise2. Don’t interrupt or speak over the interviewer

3. Use your notes

 Video 1. The next best thing to a face-to-face, with no cost of travel.2. You can make a great first impression (or a terrible one!) so make sure you look presentable and you’ve picked an appropriate place to do it from.

3. You can do this from anywhere, as long as you have a good internet connection. The most common technologies include Skype, FaceTime and Launchpad (for recorded questions)

1. There is a common tendency for people to look at their screen, and not engage with the camera. Remember that eye contact is important, whether it is in person or via video.2. Take your time to think about your answers – the same way in which you would for a face-to face. People try to fill the entire time slot for pre-recorded questions where you get, say 90 seconds, for each answer. If you are finished in 75, don’t waffle, just stop!

3. It can be a bit intimidating if you aren’t familiar with video interviewing. Being slightly afraid of Skype myself, I feel your pain and would much rather meet in person, but practice makes perfect. 

1. Ensure your technology works, with a clear camera and microphone. Do a test run if you’ve never used it before. And like my memorable example, try to get more than just your forehead on screen!2. If there is a lag due to poor internet connection, stay quiet once you’ve answered your question otherwise you both end up speaking over each other, stopping, etc.
 Face-to-Face 1. It is much easier to build rapport in person, so get your personality across!2. It is also much easier to read how the interview is going – look at their body language, do they look interested? Do they ask additional probing questions?

3. You can see the environment that you would be working in which gives you a good sense as to whether this is the right opportunity for you.

1. Beware of interviewer bias. First impressions count for a lot – be early (leave ample time to account for traffic, train delays, etc.), be presentable (dress for the environment) and on behalf of interviewers everywhere. PLEASE don’t have a limp handshake.2. Cost of travel – trains are expensive, but remember that this could be your future job, so it’s worth it, right? If you are attending too many and it’s getting too expensive, I’d recommend taking a step back to reconsider what you are looking for, and only attend those that you really want.

3. You can’t refer to as many notes during a face-to-face interview. You should therefore make sure you’ve done thorough research beforehand.

1. Engage with all the interviewers (if more than one), and ask relevant questions. Show that you are adaptable – give varied examples, as not all interviewers will be looking for the same qualities.2. Know your CV inside and out. Brush up on dates and metrics – if these don’t add up, it looks a bit suspicious.



Hannah Waters

Written by , Research Team Lead

Hannah joined Oasis HR in January 2011 after graduating with a 2.1 degree in Physical Geography. Having been promoted twice, Hannah now manages our Research Team and is due to finish her CMI course next year. Hannah specialises in HR Business Partner & Head of HR positions, and is also responsible for managing the HR Business Partner Think Tank. In her spare time, she is a keen fitness-enthusiast (most of the time…!), and completed the Mens Health ‘Survival of the Fittest’ challenge in 2012. She is competing again this year, and has recently started the Insanity workout (a craze that is slowly sweeping the office). Hannah is also about to trek the Inca Trail in Peru as part of a short tour of South America.

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