Tips to Prepare for Phone and Video Interviews During the Pandemic

A job search is challenging in “normal” times, but it is even more so during the pandemic. If it has been a few years since you ventured into a job search, here are some tips to help you prepare.

Phone Screening Interviews: The interview process typically starts with a phone interview, which may last approximately 30 minutes. The purpose of the phone interview is to determine who advances to the next step in the process. The goal of the phone interview from Human Resource’s (HR) perspective is to gauge your interest in the position, verify the information on your resume, and evaluate your attitude and ability to communicate clearly. The interviewer may be the hiring manager or from HR. They may also want to know if your salary expectations fall within what they are prepared to offer. 

Review the job description and prepare to answer questions such as:

  • What interests you about this position?
  • Describe your skills in ….?
  • Tell me more about what you did in your position as ….?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What are your salary expectations?

Commonly used sites to research salaries are CareerOneStop- Salary, and Salaries can vary widely by geographical location, so research salary by your area. Reply to questions about salary such as, “Based on my research for this position, I would expect a salary in the range of …, but I would prefer to discuss salary after I share how I am a good fit for this position.”

Use your research of the company and the job description to prepare a few questions for the interviewer such as: 

  • What are the company or department’s top priorities within the next few years?
  • Is this a remote position? (Carefully, evaluate whether you are willing to accept a job that involves travel or regular face-to-face interaction during the pandemic.)
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?

Avoid asking basic questions with obvious answers in the job description or on the organization’s website. 

Video Interviews: 

During the pandemic, video interviewing has almost completely replaced the in-person interview. The interview may be live or pre-recorded. In both cases, here are some strategies to help you prepare:

  • Practice using video conferencing tools such as Skype or Zoom.
  • Adjust your computer camera so that it is focused directly on your face. When speaking, look into the camera. 
  • Adjust your lighting, so there are no major shadows. 
  • Ensure your background is appropriate and not distracting.
  • Eliminate any background noise or potential to be interrupted.
  • Dress appropriately, as if you were going to an in-person interview. 
  • Have a copy of your resume and organize any notes you may need, but avoid focusing on your notes.
  • Many of the same strategies that apply to in-person interviews also apply to virtual interviews such as:
    • Research the organization’s products, services, and mission.
    • Review the job description.
    • Prepare at least five examples from your experience or education that illustrate how you are an excellent candidate for the position. Remember, the interviewers will remember specific examples illustrating your fit more than generic statements.
    • Use some of the answers to the questions you asked during the phone interview to ask follow-up questions.
  • If the video interview is live, engage the interviewers in a conversation by asking some questions, such as:
  • What are the top three priorities for this position within the first six months?
  • What do you see as the three main challenges facing the person hired for this position within the first year?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?
  • For more ideas of questions to ask, click on “Engage in the Interview” at
  • You may be asked to take a test or complete a short assignment during or after the interview to demonstrate your skills, abilities, and creativity. Be prepared to take this request in stride as it is becoming a common step in the interview process.

For more information on interviewing, visit the Career Services Interview resources.

Managing emotions resulting from a job loss and disruptions to daily routines while conducting a job search can be daunting. Take it one step at a time. If you need help, reach out to Career Services for support and use the resources on the Career Services website.

Written by, Senior Career Advisor, Denise Pranke