Thoughts on approaching Skype and telephone interviews

In a previous blog post, I talked about a terrible face-to-face job interview. I ended by remarking that I’ve actually had worse. One of the ‘worse’ was a phone interview. No, it was a video interview. Well, actually it was a horrible combination of both.

Following graduation from university, I decided to do a TEFL course and chose to apply to teach in Korea. I was pretty confident I would get it, as I had the 100 hours done online, an English degree, volunteering experience with children, as well as experience as a writer. So I contacted a company and an interview was arranged.

They were based in Canada so they asked if I would like to have my interview by phone or Skype. I’ve always hated phone interviews, so I chose ‘Skype’.

I sat at the desk in my bedroom, wearing a shirt and tie, waiting for the call to come in. It was the first time I’d ever used Skype, which made me a little uneasy. The call arrived and I was asked if I wanted my end to be video or audio only. I picked video. This decision was a mistake.

They had chosen audio only and I was in a bit of a panic. I couldn’t even tell how many people were on the other end. My eyes were wandering all over the place; I didn’t know where to concentrate them.

The woman in Canada began to speak rapidly in a pan-European accent. She had a list of questions she was reading off a page and wanted the interview over as soon as possible. They were three- or four-part questions that I found very difficult to comprehend in my state of terror.

Things like: ‘Name three situations on which such and such happened … and what you have done in those situations … and how you would use that experience to …’

I felt the need to answer immediately and at a speed even faster than hers. I didn’t give myself time to think.

After my answers came awkward silences and not once did she ask a follow-up question. When the interview was over, I was shattered.

A few days later, I received a rejection email that stated it was their ‘policy not to give details concerning the factors that lead to our decision.’

Admittedly, the woman was a terrible interviewer, but that’s not an excuse. Everyone else who was going for the job was in pretty much the same boat. My advice in case this happens, and I hope this doesn’t sound trite, is to prepare, prepare and then prepare some more.

  • Find out as many of the questions that could be asked as possible beforehand and come up with your own answers.
  • Take your time.
  • If a question stumps you in the interview itself, ask for it to be repeated.
  • If you can’t answer a question, just admit that and don’t try and come up with something off the cuff.
  • And, most importantly, make sure to establish that the interview will either be audio or video before it actually happens.

An amusing article: 10 silliest answers ever given in phone interviews

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