[NOTE: This post is part of a series; if interested please view the introduction. Links to the first two advice tips are below.]
Phone and Skype are often used for MBA interviews when an in-person interview isn’t feasible.
A phone interview is simply a conversation by phone; it’s in real time and there is no visual component.
A Skype interview is a conversation via Skype with video on. A Skype interview with video off is like the phone interview (as you surely know, sometimes Skype works better with the video off if the connection is unstable).
Phone and Skype interviews can replace either:
• the in-person interview with an adcom member, or
In both cases, follow the guidelines and tips for these two interview formats in the previous linked posts.
Why adcoms use these methods: Phone and Skype allow adcoms, alumni, and students to interview applicants in situations where it might not otherwise be possible, e.g., remotely located applicant, sudden change in one party’s schedule, interruptions such as weather-related flight changes, etc.
Benefits and pitfalls for applicants:
• Benefit: can showcase your adaptability and comfort with any communication medium.
• Benefit: if you establish a warm, “human” connection with the interviewer over the technology, it can really stand out and leave a strong positive impression.
• Pitfall: you’re at the mercy of the technology functioning well.
• Pitfall: it can seem awkward compared to an in-person interview.
• Pitfall: for Skype, you have to pay attention not just to yourself but to your setting and your position vis-à-vis the camera.
How to make this type of interview work for you (this is in addition to all the common sense advice for good MBA interviews and in addition to the advice in the two previous links above):
• For phone interviews, dress professionally even though you will not be seen – it will help you maintain, and reflect, a professional mindset and focus.
• It’s tempting to use notes for a phone interview, because you’re “invisible,” but I suggest using either none or at most “topic reminders”; your tone and cadence will almost certainly reveal that you are reading from notes, even if you’re sure you sound natural and are sure the interviewer can’t tell!
• Similar to above, for Skype, those notes you think are out of view – even if they are, it’s noticeable that you’re glancing at them. Unless you’re a well-seasoned professional actor, skip the notes with Skype.
• For Skype, beforehand prepare the background (i.e. lighting, visuals) and your camera position (you don’t want the camera aiming up at your neck).
• Practice a bit on the medium, even though you normally engage well in person. It’s a different sense and feel than in person.
• Clarify who’s going to call whom, at what time, in which time zone.
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with Accepted.com.