How To Prepare For A Pre-Interview

By Inspiring Interns

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You've spent hours on your CV to get it just right. You write a killer cover letter and it worked! In days gone by, you would have received a letter inviting you to an in-person interview about now. But with the jobs market becoming more competitive, it’s common now for employers to ask for a pre-interview.

It’s usually a more informal chat, just to give them a chance to ask questions about your CV and to get a feel for who you are as a person. Most often this happens over the phone, but increasingly employers are arranging for pre-interviews using video conferencing software such as Skype or GoToMeeting.

Preparing for the Interview

At this stage, you probably won’t want to spend too much time researching the company. It is worth having a look at their website, or reading any materials they’ve sent you. The company will probably be using this as a chance to ask you questions, but you can also use it as an opportunity to clarify the role. Make some notes to keep by your side, so you don’t forget what you wanted to say.

When preparing for an interview with the media, the advice is to think of a few key points that you want to get across. That’s why you hear politicians repeating the same phrases, even if it doesn’t really answer the question. Now obviously you don’t want to come across as a robot, but having some thoughts prepared will help you not trip over your tongue when you’re nervous. Rehearse them with a friend, if you can.

Dress for the Interview

Yes, even if the interview is happening over the phone. Although it’s tempting to have an interview in your PJ’s, the way you dress affects the way you act. If you’re dressed, hair sorted and make-up on (if you wear it) it will help you project a professional manner.

The same is true for Skype calls. Don’t just put on a nice top, be fully dressed including your shoes. You’ll feel better for it, and that will come across to your interviewer.


Did you know that you can hear a smile in a person’s voice? Science has revealed that a smile is just one of the emotions that changes the voice enough to be recognisable. So, when you’re talking try and make sure that you’re smiling too. If you’re genuinely enthusiastic about the role, then it shouldn’t be too much of a struggle to let that leak into your voice.


Try and make sure that there isn’t any background noise in your interview. Pop a note on your door asking people not to ring or knock. Make sure any other phones you have aren’t going to disturb you. If you have pets, give them something to entertain them so you don’t get a woof or meow at the wrong moment.

For video calls, set yourself up so that you have a neutral background behind you. Even if that means moving your computer, or creating a stack of boxes to get it to the right height. Rather than showing the mess that is your front room, or last nights pizza boxes, a plain wall gives a sense of calm and allows the interviewer to focus on you and nothing else.

And if you need a reminder of why it’s important to make sure that you’re not disturbed, just watch this BBC News video where an expert’s wife & kids crashed his opinion piece.

Technical Issues

Make sure that your equipment isn’t going to let you down on the day. Charge your phone, and have a test call to make sure that everything is working as it should be.

If you’ve been invited to a video call, most apps will let you test out the compatibility of your kit with theirs before you start. Read up on the controls; some video conferencing apps will automatically mute you when you enter because they’re mostly used for webinars. You may need to activate both your camera and microphone before you can speak.

Deep Breaths!

Spend the 10 minutes before the call mentally preparing yourself. Go to the bathroom. Get a glass of water ready in case of a dry mouth. Have a notepad and pen close by in case you need to make notes (and to remind you of your research). Take some deep breaths, and think happy thoughts. Then when the phone rings, or it’s time to dial in? You’ll be more than ready to impress and get yourself that all-important in-person interview.


Sarah Dixon writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse our graduate jobs London listings, visit our website.

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