Ace Your Phone Interview
10 Ways to help you have a successful phone interview
Not all that long ago being invited to interview usually meant meeting in person. But, not any more. Today, most initial interviews are conducted over the phone even for local candidates.
On the surface it seems like a good thing for jobseekers. You don’t have to sneak out of the office for several hours for a half-hour interview. You don’t have to worry about finding the office. You don’t have to worry about the interviewer catching you checking your notes.
But there are a few downsides.
It’s not as easy to engage with a stranger over the phone. It’s easier to be distracted when you’re not meeting someone face-to-face. And it’s tempting to think that a phone interview is just a formality.
But, there are things that you can do to build rapport and stack the odds in your favor.
Before the Call
- Make sure you’re in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. Avoid the urge to interview in your office (even if you have a private office) or in a well trafficked area like a stairwell. The day you’re interviewing with a recruiter will be the day that your boss decides to take the stairs.
- It’s always preferable to use a landline but if that’s not possible be sure that you’re someplace where you have good cell reception. It’s nearly impossible for a recruiter to conduct an interview when your voice is garbled or your phone keeps cutting in and out. It also doesn’t speak well for your ability to plan ahead.
- Research the company and the person who will be interviewing you. Spend some time reviewing the company’s website. Look at their LinkedIn page and social media outlets. When the interviewer asks if you’re familiar with the company they aren’t expecting you to mutter “no” they’re expecting some intelligent comments. Take the time to visit the LinkedIn profiles of the people you’ll be talking with. It may help you find common ground.
- Prepare notes about the company and have them on hand for your call. Notes should include: information that you’ve gathered about the company; information about the person or persons you’re interviewing with; and any questions you have about the company and the position. Be sure to have your resume on hand to prompt you with names, dates, and accomplishments.
- Know your resume cold. This goes for everything you claim on LinkedIn and other social media sites as well. This is particularly important if you have your documents prepared by a professional writer. Everything on your resume and that the hiring manager can find online is fair game.
During the Call
- Begin by trying to connect with the recruiter or HR associate on the other end of the line. When you want to sound friendly over the phone it’s essential to smile. Your voice actually changes when you making you sound happier even if you’re not. Ask a friend to talk to you while she is smiling and while she isn’t you should be able to hear the difference.
- Be excited about the company and the position. If you don’t convey your enthusiasm during the phone interview you may not make it to the next round. Stand up and walk around if you can. If you use your hands to express yourself in person try to do that when you’re on the phone as well.
- Pay attention to what the interviewer is asking. Sometimes when we’re talking it can be tempting to begin formulating our answers while the other person is still speaking. This is a big mistake during a job interview. Listen to the questions before answering. If you don’t understand something say so.
- Give detailed descriptions of your accomplishments. Try to quantify achievements with numbers or percentages. This is one of the reasons having notes and a copy of your resume comes in handy. Just having a few things available to jog your memory will help you relax knowing that you don’t have to depend on your memory.
- Jot down anything that the interviewer says that you find particularly interesting or may prove helpful to you going forward. This might include: duties that are not mentioned in the job description; skills or traits they are looking for in a candidate; or any problems that the hiring manager needs to be solved. Use these to reinforce your qualifications for the job when you send a thank you note.
After the Call
Even if it’s only a 20-minute chat with a recruiter be sure to follow up with a thank-you email after the call. This is an opportunity to express your interest in the company and the position, mention anything you forgot to say during the interview, and sell yourself as the best candidate for the job.
Remember to treat a phone interview as you would any other job interview. Prepare in advance and conduct yourself professionally. If you perform well on the phone interview there’s a good chance you’ll be invited in to interview face-to-face.