You’ve been searching long and hard for a new job, diligently submitting your resume to high-potential opportunities. And then it happens. You get an email from a company asking for a phone interview. Eeek! What do you do? How do you prepare? Our list of 10 exceptional phone interview tips will help make sure you’re ready when the phone rings.
Phone Interview Tips
1. Take It Seriously
Don’t be fooled by the informal nature of the phone interview. It is a REAL interview, and it deserves all the preparation and effort you would give to an in-person interview.
“But I’m just talking to some HR lackey,” you say. “Not my future boss.”
While most phone interviews are conducted by HR personnel, their thoughts, opinions and observations are highly valued within their organizations. In essence, they are the gate keepers to your success.
Demonstrate your seriousness by being ready to answer the phone when they call. Be polite, courteous and considerate. Give full and complete answers to their questions.
You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Failing to take a phone interview seriously could cost you your dream job.
2. Read & Understand the Job Description
Chances are you’re applying to more than one position at a time. And that’s okay! However, you may find it difficult to keep the specifics of each position description straight.
Once you accept an invitation for a phone interview, go back and find the job posting that you applied to. Print off a copy (seriously). Read it. Then read it again.
Make notes in the margins where you have the required skills or experience. Write down questions where you want more information or clarification.
On the day of the phone interview, use the printed job description with your notes as a quick reference. Doing so will help you project an aura of confidence and competence.
3. Research the Company
No list of phone interview tips would be complete without an admonition to research the company.
Without a doubt, you’ll be asked what attracted you to the position during the interview process. Beyond conveying your general excitement for the job, you’ll also want to explain why you’re eager to work for the company.
Beyond conveying your general excitement for the job, you’ll also want to explain why you’re eager to work for the company.
Spend some time on the company’s website learning more about their history and mission. Peruse their social media accounts. Read the employee ratings and reviews on websites like Glassdoor.com and Indeed.com.
Once you’ve done this, synthesize all the information you’ve gathered into a coherent and meaningful answer that you can easily give. We promise you’ll be glad you did!
4. Know Your Red Flags
Did you leave a previous employer on bad terms?
Do you have substantial gaps in your work history?
When prepping for a phone interview, it’s important to know your red flags. Simply put, red flags are the things that would make a future employer nervous about hiring you.
Good phone interviewers will identify your red flags and want to know more. Don’t leave your response to chance. Prepare a professional answer in advance so you’re not stumbling for words when this situation arises.
Most companies aren’t looking for perfect employees. They are, however, looking for employees that are honest, can own their mistakes and move forward from them.
5. Set the Mood
And no…we don’t mean dim the lights and turn on some soft music.
Since you will know the day and time the phone interview will occur, you can make sure you are in a quiet and comfortable place when the phone rings.
For instance, many people choose to “answer the call” from the privacy of their own home. This allows the interviewee to have more control over their environment, limiting distractions and interruptions.
While time constraints may prevent you from doing a phone interview at home, still be sure to find a secluded location. There’s nothing more annoying than asking “What did you say?” amid shouts of “Jessica, your coffee is ready.”
6. Listen, Listen, Listen
Phone interviews can be nerve-racking. After all, your employment future is at stake.
That being said, no one likes being talked over or taking part in a one-sided conversation.
While it may be hard to control your nervous energy, be sure to listen as much as you speak (if not more).
Listen to the interviewer as they describe the position and company. Try to take in everything they are saying. Allow them to get their entire question out before you begin answering.
This isn’t just a matter of good manners. It also demonstrates your ability to be a calm and respectful employee.
7. Smile and Sit Up Straight
Smile? Sit up straight? During a phone interview?
While it may seem odd that we’ve included smiling and sitting up straight on our list of phone interview tips, there’s a very logical explanation.
First, smiling not only makes you sound happy and excited to be talking with the interviewer, it can also help calm your nerves, making you feel better. Who couldn’t use a bit of calm during an adrenaline rush?
Smiling not only makes you sound happy and excited to be talking with the interviewer, it can also help calm your nerves, making you feel better.
Second, sitting up straight allows for deeper breathing and a clearer voice. It helps you speak with more confidence and assertiveness.
In essence, maintain the same body language that you would during an in-person interview and you’ll be golden.
8. Embrace the Silence
Have you ever walked away from a conversation and kicked yourself for not explaining something clearly or correctly?
Don’t let this happen to you during your next phone interview.
When the interviewer asks you a question that merits a serious or thoughtful response, don’t rush to give an answer. Instead, ask for a moment to collect your thoughts. It might feel slightly uncomfortable to sit in silence for a moment, but this simple practice will help you present the best version of yourself.
Likewise, after you’ve given your answer, don’t feel compelled to keep on talking. The interviewer is going to need a moment to jot down their notes. Give them the time to do so.
9. Have Questions Ready
After the interviewer finishes asking their questions, they’ll probably ask if you have any questions for them.
Under no circumstances should you ever say “no.”
Saying “no” gives the impression that you’re not interested in the position, that you just want to get off the phone.
That’s why it’s a good idea to have a few questions ready for this scenario. For instance, you could ask:
- What is the training process?
- Who will I work with most closely?
- Who will I report to?
- What qualities does it take to succeed in this role?
- Can you describe the company and team culture?
Remember, a phone interview is the first step in the hiring process. Conversations about compensation and benefits should be saved for later. For now, your questions should focus on the role and the company.
10. Send a Thank You Email
You’ve hung up the phone and breathed a sigh of relief. Now all you need to do is sit back and wait for an invitation for an in-person interview.
The last step in the phone interview process is to send a thank you email. This email should:
- Thank the interviewer for their time;
- Offer a brief explanation on why you’re the best candidate for the position; and
- State that you look forward to hearing about next steps.
Typically, thank you emails should be sent within a few hours of the interview. Anything sent after the 24-hour mark is considered an afterthought.
For more information on crafting the perfect thank you email, check out this article from Indeed.com.
There you have it. If you follow these phone interview tips, you are guaranteed to have the phone interviewer eating out of your hand. Now you can go ahead and relax…until your invitation for an in-person interview arrives.
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Last Modified:by Katy Konkel