Phone versus video job interview: Which is better?


Nicole Serres is an author and president of Star Staffing, based in Petaluma.

Read her previous columns.

You are hiring again and need to start screening applicants to fill your open positions. You have the choice between an in-person interview, a video call, or a phone interview.

So let’s discuss the best forum for interviewing applicants — the phone screen versus the video screen.

We know phone screens have been the most common way of interviewing besides in-person interviews. Typically, companies start with the phone screen and then lead into an in-person interview at stage 2.

However, over the past five years, video interviews have been emerging as the go-to method for the interview process. The video interview became the de facto choice since COVID-19 has forced many recruiting efforts to go fully digital in lieu of in-person interviews.

So, which is better, the phone or the video interview? Which method is best to assess top talent? Let us take a look.

The phone interview

The phone Interview is the go-to format for first round interviews. Many aspiring job seekers expect a phone call interview as part of the first-step process to get a new job.

Here are the pros:

  1. Phone interviews are accessible to every candidate and have been used for hiring purposes for decades. Less tech-savvy candidates in traditional industries are more likely to feel comfortable with this tried-and-true interview method. Candidates pick up a call from the recruiter on their mobile phone or landline and they are good to go.
  2. The phone interview is a great introductory call usually with a recruiter prior to speaking with a member of the team the candidate would be working with. It is more relaxed and a great, no-pressure introduction for a company-to-candidate rapport.
  3. Neither recruiter nor candidate can see one another, allowing for both parties to reference their notes during the interview.

Here are the cons:

  1. It can be challenging for recruiters to gauge if a candidate is a good fit over the phone. Building a good initial relationship can also be more challenging.
  2. It is almost impossible to get a feel for the non-verbal cues candidates and recruiters give each other at this stage, further blurring the lines of how well the recruiter and the candidate can assess job skills and fit.

The video interview

Here are the pros:

  1. During a video interview, both the candidate and the recruiter can visually see each other and interact with each other live. This method allows recruiters to assess candidate reactions to interview questions and can lead to more natural ease and flow of conversation.
  2. Recruiters can get more of an inside look into how a candidate presents themselves during a video interview compared to the phone interview. It is also easier to see how-prepared the candidate is without notes available to them.

Here are the cons:

  1. Technical difficulties can disrupt the flow of the video interview and throw both the interviewer and interviewee off and take away the possibility for the best assessment of each party.
  2. The video platform and constant visibility may intimidate both the interviewer and the interviewee and cause them to misrepresent themselves.

The best of both worlds

Consider leveraging both the phone and video interview methods during your recruitment process.

One strategy could be to use the phone interview for an initial 15- to 30-minute phone screen between a recruiter and a candidate.

Next would be a video interview with the hiring manager and the candidate.

Finally, you could opt to bring the candidate into the workplace to meet the rest of the team, take them on a tour for an inside look, or finish the hiring process with one last video interview.

However, we recommend shortening your hiring process as much as you can in this current labor marketplace. The longer your process is, the more likely you are to lose candidates.

Choosing between phone and video interviews, or a combination of both, may depend on the amount of time and resources that are available to you and your recruiting team.

Whichever method you choose, be sure to communicate your preference to candidates to ensure they have time to download any necessary software, charge cell phones, or take whatever steps are necessary to ensure a smooth interview process.


Nicole Serres is an author and president of Star Staffing, based in Petaluma.

Read her previous columns.

Show Comment

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette