Going Online: Telephone & Skype Interview Hints & Tips

Matt Vickers, Careers Consultant, provides some great tips on how to succeed in telephone or skype interviews.

With the requirement for staff to work remotely, due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) epidemic, you may have interviews coming up for jobs/internships/postgraduate study which have been moved to a telephone or Skype (or similar) format. So, we thought it might be helpful to offer some points of advice:


Ensure you have decent telephone reception/Wi-Fi signal – it is your responsibility and part of coming across professionally to recruiters.


…and similarly that your telephone/computer is either plugged-in to the mains or is fully charged.


Think about where you will be when you phone/Skype and consider your surroundings.

  • Is it quiet enough?
  • For Skype, what is the background that the interviewers will see behind you and how is the lighting?


You can make some notes as prompts to help you BUT these should be notes and not a script (reading scripts is always obvious). Use bullet points and a very large font – rather like you might on a PowerPoint presentation – to guide your responses. Examples might include:

For a telephone interview your notes should be laid out on a flat table/bed/surface because you mustn’t rustle the papers (it will be heard over the phone). So 1-sided printing and no stapling. With a Skype interview notes can be stuck on a wall around but behind the edge of your laptop or computer screen, so you can quickly glance without having to obviously move your head.

Who is calling/Skyping whom? 

  • Are they calling you, or vice-versa?
  • Have you exchanged telephone numbers/Skype contacts?
  • If Skyping, do you have a back-up phone number, in case of technical issues?


First impressions count! “Yeah?” is not the best way to begin a phone call, so how about “Hello. This is XXX speaking.” With a Skype call, perhaps “Good morning/afternoon. This is XXX speaking. Can I check that you can hear me clearly and that the camera is working?”.


Treat a Skype interview exactly as you would a face-to-face interview in terms of the clothes you choose to wear.

Eye contact

This is a particular issue for Skype – or recorded video – interviews. When you see the interviewer’s face on your computer screen your natural inclination is to look at their eyes. But in doing so you are actually looking down! You need to try to train yourself to look at the camera on your PC/laptop (which feels counter-intuitive) in order to be ‘looking’ at them! Try putting a post-it with a note to this effect next to the camera.

Practice “Why?”

It is really important that you are clear in your own mind:

  • Why you want the particular job/internship/postgraduate opportunity
  • Why specifically with this organisation or university/institute
  • What relevant experience you have

These are the most obvious questions, yet are often the ones neglected by students in their preparation. Being excited by an opportunity (that ‘gut feeling’) it is easy to forget to think about how to translate that visceral feeling into clear words of English. And it matters because often these types of questions come early or even at the start and so set the tone for the remainder of the interview.

Think about “How?”

What evidence do you have – and what examples might you use – of how your skills/competencies match those required by the recruiter?

Questions for them

Have questions prepared to ask the interviewers, to show your interest and enthusiasm in the opportunity. It is usually fine to have these written down and to make notes when they reply.


Use the Interview Simulator software in the Resources tab of MyCareerHub to rehearse as much as you can. Practice really does make a difference.


Much of the standard interview advice applies, so check out what our website says!


  • Jot down the questions you were asked before you forget – they’ll help with future interviews.
  • Reflect on your performance: could you have done anything better? You can book an appointment (via Skype) with a Careers Consultant to discuss any difficulties you encountered or particular questions.
  • Keep in mind that no interview is perfect. It only needs to be good enough.
  • Whatever the outcome, ask for feedback.
  • Do let us know how you get on!


(Image credit: Prateek Katyal on Pexels)


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