Been invited to a telephone or video interview?

The following blog post was submitted by 3rd year BSc Accounting & Finance student, Mo Karim who is currently on placement at Grant Thornton.

Congratulations, you made it to the interview stage of the application process and are a step closer to the paradise known as employment; what can be done to assist you on your journey?

computerIn this blog, I will attempt to unravel the mystery behind telephone and video interviews and give my two cents on what is required for you to get that, “congratulations, we were most delighted with your interview and would like to invite you to an assessment centre” email.




Most organisations will require you to participate in a telephone interview as a part of their application process, and if you are one of the lucky few, like I was, you will also have to participate in a digital video interview. Do not fret, for these interviews are blessings in disguise; you won’t be asked to calculate how many tennis balls will fit in a Boeing 747 or how you would invest £100 million. These are simply competency interviews, well the majority are anyway.

Below are a few things you can, and you should do in preparation for telephone and video interviews:

  • “Tell me about yourself” – this is a question that is asked in almost every interview and you would be surprised by the number of people that list their work experiences here. Stop. The interviewer has read your application and almost definitely has your CV in front of them, so they already know about your two years’ work experience at Asda and your Duke of Edinburgh Gold award. Tell them something unique about yourself and the activities you undertake outside of academia and work experience – that might help them remember you as an individual
  • Read the annual report and industry news– you should know more about the company and its future than the interviewer. Read the most recent annual report and take notes of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as revenue, profit and costs. Try to understand why these KPIs have increased/decreased and how they are performing in comparison to the industry. Found any interesting investments the company are going to make or any developments in the industry? If possible, analyse these developments and highlight potential impacts to the organisation in your interview, this demonstrates commercial awareness and is something that the majority of candidates will not do
  • Competencies and examples – as mentioned earlier on, this is what the bulk of your interview will consist of, therefore a lot of emphasis must be placed on the preparation here. The competencies (values) tend to be explicit on the company website, and all you have to do in the interview is demonstrate these values through your experiences. Think of recent experiences, whether academic, extra-curricular or work related, and decide how they illustrate the values the firm is searching for. As a general guide, I would have two strong examples for each competency the company are assessing, this is in case the interviewer wants to see another situation whereby you demonstrated a value
  • Situation Task Action Result (STAR) methodology – now that you have examples for each competency, how do you translate that into interview talk? The STAR method is the holy grail of interview techniques, and for a good reason: it demonstrates concise communication skills and allows you highlight your individual contribution to a task. To ensure an excellent outcome, a lot of practise is required, once you have practised a few times and understand the methodology you won’t need to remember answers for interviews anymore, hooray! When I utilise this framework, I set the scene for the interviewer by describing the situation and task of my example in as much detail as possible. Naturally, this will flow on to my actions in the task and the subsequent impact afterwards
  • Questions – you have answered all the questions set by the interviewer, well done, but the interview isn’t over yet. You now have the opportunity to ask your own questions about the firm. Please don’t leave the interview not having asked any questions, it suggests that you haven’t prepared or don’t have a genuine interest in the job. Consequently, don’t ask questions for the sake of it, this will come across as disingenuous and hinder your chances at passing the interview. Genuine questions tend to arise as a result of researching the organisation and, you guessed it, genuine interest!

I hope that my advice is useful and can assist in reducing interview nerves and improving charisma at interviews. Follow my tips for a better interview experience and best of luck with future interviews!

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