January 5, 2017 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Widgets Inc. (in the US) wants to schedule a phone interview with me (on vacation in Germany). How do I make this work?

I currently have the AT&T Passport plan with my US phone number -- under this plan, Widgets Inc can call my normal cell phone number, but it'll cost me $1/minute.

Is there another cheaper but still reliable option? All I want is to have a phone number I can give to Widgets Inc, which they can call to reach me and talk to me for 30 or so minutes.
I have access to WIFI here, a smartphone with 150MB data, and an iPad.
posted by sondern to Technology (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would ask if you could call them and then just use google hangouts or skype or whatever you want from your tablet. I have a UK mobile and I use it to make calls all the time in the USA, but only using hangouts over wifi. It changes a £1 per minute call into a $0.01 per minute call. It is pretty easy to find wifi nearly everywhere. The only problem is that people have no means of contacting you so you have to be proactive in contacting them.
posted by koolkat at 7:44 AM on January 5, 2017

Can't you give Widgets Inc. your German smartphone number? If they are a big company, calling internationally is not a big deal.
posted by vacapinta at 7:49 AM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Invest $30? If it works out you'll be miles ahead, if not, eh.
posted by fixedgear at 7:51 AM on January 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Do you have google mail at all? International VOIP calls are very cheap with this.
posted by carter at 7:56 AM on January 5, 2017

Skype (on both ends) has been the preferred solution when I've had remote interviews or meetings.
posted by tavegyl at 8:01 AM on January 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

To clarify -- the smartphone is my US phone with data and the $1/minute while abroad plan. I don't have a German phone.

I do have Gmail -- but I'm a noob with VoIP, so any instructions/descriptions of what to do exactly would be really helpful.
posted by sondern at 8:10 AM on January 5, 2017

Can you simply give them the number for a German landline at the hotel/home where you are staying?
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:14 AM on January 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

With gmail - in my web interface at least - if you scroll all the way down, at the bottom on the left under the folder menu, there is a little phone symbol, and maybe a 'Make a Call' link. If I click on that I get a dial pad. There's ways to add cash using a credit card. I use this all the time for US to UK, it's very cheap, cheap enough that I don't know how much it costs. But it's pennies/minute.
posted by carter at 8:17 AM on January 5, 2017

+1 for your hotel's landline. Nobody expects you take a job interview while roaming internationally.
posted by MattD at 8:18 AM on January 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

Also, your hotel room is quiet and the landline signal will be clear. Good first impression material, both.
posted by MattD at 8:18 AM on January 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yeah I tend to agree with the hotel landline suggestion. If you still want to use gmail, you open the dial pad, add the cash, and dial the number. The one thing you want to get sorted before you start is the exact sequence of numbers that you need to dial to go from Germany to US. You'll need to access the international trunk, and how to modify (if at all) US numbers.

According to Rick Steves:
Dial 00, Europe's international access code, or enter + from any mobile phone.
Dial 1, the country code for the US and Canada.
Dial the phone number, including area code.

Oh and headphones if you use your laptop.
posted by carter at 8:23 AM on January 5, 2017

I do this all the time, Skype or Google are normal. Or they should have a conference number with a local dial in.
posted by geoff. at 8:33 AM on January 5, 2017

Another possibility is if WidgetsInc uses a conferencing company like Global Crossing.

WidgetsInc can set up a teleconference and use their local USA access number, while you use the international dialup one via a tollfee number (which you should use from a hotel, not a mobile).
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:40 AM on January 5, 2017

You'll need a google account of a skype account. I use google so I'll talk about their options.

You need to add credit, unfortunately you can only add a minimum of $10 at a go and that is good for 1000 minutes to any European number or a usa number from Europe. IIRC calling a landline in the USA is free so if google hasn't caught up with you yet you might be able to do it all for free. I'd try calling someone in the USA as a test first.

Once you have credit you can call out using either the hangouts dialer app or from within gmail by clicking on the phone. You should select the country flag from the dropdown and then put in the number (missing the leading 1 because google puts that in for you) You should end up with something like

Then you just hit the green phone or dial however it looks like you should and it will ring. If you need to put in additional numbers to navigate a menu you click on what looks like a dialpad of a phone and a phonepad will pop up to allow you to put in additional numbers.

Quite simple to get it working and worth it if you ever call Europe as you can now call from your gmail account for 0.01 a minute so essentially free. I've put $10 in my account in 2015 and I've still got $2 or so left, but I normally talk tablet to tablet which is free.
posted by koolkat at 8:55 AM on January 5, 2017

Perhaps this is obvious, but -- test with a friend in advance of the interview to make sure that whatever scheme you have chosen works and that the directions you give are sufficient to make contact.
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:41 AM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

If they use Skype at all, you can connect directly Skype client to Skype client, no need to buy anything beyond the wifi connection, and the installation is a breeze. I conduct 90% of my remote interviews on Skype rather than POTS.
posted by mr vino at 2:01 PM on January 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

+1 for your hotel's landline. Nobody expects you take a job interview while roaming internationally.

Hi! I work for the government and hiring has gotten so difficult for us at this point that when we receive our list of candidates, we have exactly 11 days (including weekends, holidays and vacation) to make a selection. We cannot schedule when we get our list. Sometimes, we can guess it is coming. Other times it is a surprise. If we don't have a selection made in the system by the 11th day, we lose our list (called our "cert") and the process starts over.

As a result, once I've twisted the arms of my panel to all be available on Friday to do our interviews, when I call to offer you an interview, the interview will be on Friday. I have interviewed people (many people) out on fires, I've interviewed people on vacation in South Africa and Guatemala, I've interviewed tons of folks on leave visiting family.

I'd just roll with it and consider yourself lucky if you don't have to get up at 2 a.m. to take the call (I think the guy in South Africa had to get up at 4 a.m. to be on our interview call).

With that said, I wouldn't blink an eye at Skype. I would encourage you to test your connection prior to making the call (speedtest) to ensure you're going to have a solid connection. If it isn't fast enough, invest in paying for the international call. Nothing more annoying than a phone interview when you can't hear each other. Good luck!
posted by arnicae at 7:40 AM on January 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

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