Lots of companies use phone interviews as a screening process to see which candidates will get to the next round. In many ways you’ll treat a phone interview as a regular job interview, but how can you prepare for the call and make the best impression?
DO research the employer and the job role
You’ll come across as a champ if you show the employer you really know what their company (and the job) is all about. Check their company website to find out a bit more about how their company divisions hang together, what they actually do and what their business goals are.
Most importantly, research the job itself. Print out or write out the job description you applied for so you have it to hand during the phone interview. Make a note of what you’d be doing, and what key skills and experience they said they’re looking for. Then you can drop in your key skills and experience using the same kind of language they used in the job description. It’s a psychological tactic that shows you’ve really paid attention to the job, and you’d be a perfect fit!
DO have your CV in easy reach during the phone interview
You’ll feel like a right silly billy if you’re asked how long you worked at your last job and your mind goes blank. Keep your CV to hand and you’ll know exactly what you did and when. If you’ve included a CV personal statement, you’ll also have all your key strengths on the tip of your tongue – as well as a handy list of your achievements!
DO write down questions you want to ask in advance
At some point the interviewer is probably going to ask if you have any questions you’d like to ask. Write some good questions down in advance so you’re prepared for that part of the phone interview.
Some useful questions to ask might be:
- Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job?
- What qualities and skills are you most looking for in this role?
- What do you like best about working for this company?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
DO listen to the interviewer
Sometimes social nerves can get the better of us. This phone interview is a two-way conversation where you have to listen as well as speak, so don’t let your mind run away with you or you’ll miss important details. Pay close attention to what the interviewer says. If there’s a poor phone connection, tell them so that you can work to sort it out together.
You can also make notes during the phone interview. They can’t see you doing it, but it can help you remember key points and come back to them later if you need to.
DON’T: Interrupt the interviewer. You might want to interrupt because you’re nervous or you’ve just thought of a really great thing to say. However, interrupting the interviewer may come across as annoying or even arrogant, like what you have to say is more important than them. It also breaks the flow of conversation, which can make things very hard in a phone interview where you can’t see each other! If you interrupt the interviewer, that means you’re not really listening. You can’t listen and talk at the same time.
DO eat and hydrate before the phone interview
When we get anxious our bodies can do weird things, like we might suddenly need the bathroom or not focus properly because we’ve got stomach rumbles. So make sure you’ve had something nourishing to eat before your phone interview, and also that you’ve been to the bathroom. Also make sure you have a glass of water handy. Staying hydrated can help you feel calmer, and it can also help if you suddenly get a dry or sore throat from talking.
DON’T: Eat during the interview. Your interviewer will hear you munching and that’s not a good look (or sound). Chewing gum counts as eating, by the way.
DO be friendly, positive and professional
Even if you don’t like speaking on the phone much, you can avoid sounding like a robot by giving a friendly greeting and saying things like “thanks so much for giving me this opportunity of a phone interview, I’ve been really looking forward to it.” You don’t need to tell them all about your best mate’s dog and what you have for breakfast, but it’s okay to speak in a natural way and still be professional. Listen to the interviewer and follow their lead. If they’re formal and straight down to business, do the same. If they’re chatty, they’re probably doing it to put you at your ease, so you can relax a little.
TOP TIP: Smile as you speak. The interviewer can’t see you smile, but they can hear it in the tone of your voice, and it can give a good impression. It’s all about having great communication skills!
DON’T: Sound bored. Stay positive and enthusiastic right the way through the phone interview, so you’re giving the interviewer (who can’t see you) all the right signals that you’re keen to learn more about the job and how you would fit into the company if you were hired.
DO prepare a nice quiet space to talk in advance.
You’ve most likely been given the exact time for the phone interview, so use that information wisely. If you’re using a mobile phone, make sure it’s fully juiced with good reception in the location where you’ll take the call. Make sure you’ll be talking somewhere where there’s no excessive traffic noise or conversation from others. You need a quiet space so you can hear each other speak with no distractions.
Speaking of distractions…
Make sure you DON’T have any distraction while you’re doing your phone interview. No TV, no music, no friends banging on your bedroom door.
DO thank the interviewer for their time at the end of the interview
Always end the interview on a high note, it’s the last thing you’ll both remember! So smile, say thank you for the call, and say it’s been good to talk with them and find out more about the role. Ask about what happens next in the interview process if that hasn’t already been covered.
Then cross your fingers and think happy thoughts. Getting a phone interview is already a fantastic achievement. Good luck with getting through to the next round of interviews (all these interview tips may help). And finally, good luck in getting the job!