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How to Facilitate Telephone & Zoom Interviews

Sometimes meeting face-to-face is not an option, whether you can't spare the time - or travel is not favourable for whatever reason, or in an era of social distancing. In these situations, you may want to Zoom, Skype, or interview a candidate over the phone - to get to know them better or to qualify their skills.

For other interview methods, see our information on best interview practice.

Telephone, Zoom, or Skype interviews are also helpful precursors to physical interviews - allowing you to thin shortlists based on their performance in these more convenient interviews.

However, like all forms of interview, there is necessary preparation to consider - to ensure you don't waste your time when conducting phone & Zoom interviews. We've compiled this list of top tips for phone & Zoom interviews for you to use when facilitating a long-distance interview:


Have an Objective

Know exactly what you want to achieve in your interview - this means you can keep your interview on topic, and you'll be able to decide on the candidate's suitability at the end of the call. Decide whether you want to test a candidate's character or capability - to see if they are a cultural fit or have the abilities/experience needed to perform the role. Interview goals need to be set long in advance so that they can guide your questions.


Leading on from the previous point, you need to prepare some questions for the interview adequately. While you may want a conversational and casual interview, free of rigid structure, it's always helpful to have questions ready for any lapses in discussion - or to make sure you don't forget to ask about something you need to address. You may also want to have notes to hand or the candidate's CV - so that you have evidence to interrogate. If you get a dry throat, have some water handy. We've also got a handy guide on how to shortlist these candidates in the first place.


Make sure you've exchanged contact details and set a time & date for the interview. It is vital to have established who will call whom - are you calling the candidate, or are they calling you? And do you both know this? If not, you may both be awaiting a call that never comes.

Take Notes

Take notes so that you can quiz candidates on what they say and so that if you have multiple candidates to choose from, you can review notes later on. You can also refer to a candidate's previous statements later on in an interview should you need to.

Remove Distractions

Make sure you conduct the interview in a location where you won't be disturbed - and let colleagues know not to bother you during this interview. Any audio disturbances that can be avoided should be - like busy roads or music. You want to make sure you can focus on the conversation; removing loud noise improves communication. It's important to remain focused - so don't let your mind wander to other things.

Put the Candidate at Ease

Skype interviews can feel intense at times. Candidates are aware that you will be monitoring their actions on video chat. So, put them at ease, be friendly and they will relax - and stop guarding their body language, allowing for more clarity in your judgement of their demeanour. We've got a set of techniques to relax candidates in an interview.

Set-Up Early If you're using Zoom, it's important that you can conduct the interview without any technical hitches. This includes wi-fi/internet disconnects, or if you have a slower machine that the programme itself won't cause an issue. To prevent disaster in a Zoom interview, it's best to set yourself up and test in advance of the interview, check your connection, have Zoom open, and your meeting information already added and yourself ready. Similarly, for phone interviews, you should set up at least 15 minutes prior so that if there are any hiccups, you can call the candidate and keep them informed. It also helps for you to settle, get into the 'zone' and be ready to conduct the interview.

Confirm the Interview

No one likes to be kept waiting, so it's important to have confirmed with your candidate that the interview is still happening - so both parties have no excuse for forgetting. Ideally, a candidate will show initiative and contact you on the day - to show that they are committed to the role. However, if they do not - give them until 30 minutes before that interview, and if by then they haven't, you should double-check.

Establish Conditions

Should you be hiring for a technical or specialist role requiring a candidate to demonstrate certain aptitudes and skills, ensure that you've given your interviewee a warning as to what you may test them on. If you wish to discuss specific experience or skills, let your candidate know in advance so that they can have appropriately prepared and so that you can have an informed discussion about their capabilities. This can be as simple as letting them know a few topics you may touch upon. Selecting and establishing topics/asking points for an interview can involve unnecessary back-and-forth - at times, going with a recruitment agency who handle this for you is beneficial. A recruiter will listen to your needs, arrange an interview and inform a candidate on what you want from them - freeing up your time to use elsewhere. 

For more information on why using a recruiter can better facilitate phone interviews check out our guide on the benefits of going through a sales recruitment agency.

To wrap up, facilitating a Zoom, Skype, or phone interview is a relatively straightforward task, but these tips can make a good interview great - and alleviate any problems that could arise.

Follow this advice, and it will allow you to conduct concise phone interviews, allowing you to shortlist for face-to-face interviews effectively. It ultimately comes down to preparing, making sure anything you need is available, and any issues that could arrive are dealt with in advance.

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About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

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