Phone Interview How To’s

Phone interviews are used more and more as a round one screening process. They are time and cost effective. For the most part, preparation is similar to a regular interview. Do your research. Connect with the interviewer. Give specific examples.  Know your story.  Know your strengths.  Listen. Ask questions. Send a thoughtful thank you note. What can be intimidating about the phone interview is the limited visual and verbal feedback we come to rely on in social situations.  While that’s great because they can’t tell if you’re twirling your hair, it can also be a bit disconcerting.

Here are a few tips to make your next phone interview a bit more comfortable.

1.  Don’t drop the call.  If possible, take the call from a land line.  If you need to take the call from your cell make sure you have good coverage and a full battery.  Make sure you have the interviewer’s phone number in case something happens with your service.  And in case we need to state the  obvious: take the call from a quiet location.  No dogs, babies, traffic, wind, or slot machines in the background.  If you are currently employed, step out of the office.  Do NOT huddle in the corner of your office whispering.  Not only will the interviewer not be able to hear you, but you’ll be more nervous about someone overhearing you than the content of your answers. Finally, do NOT take the call on speaker.  There is nothing worse than the vortex of speaker phone.

2.  It’s open book.  Feel free to have notes in front of you, including your resume and cover letter and any research you have amassed on the company.  Hopefully it goes without saying that research should be done prior to the call, not during the call.  That being said having the company website up on your computer can help in a pinch. Take notes during the interview but don’t type the notes.  The noise is distracting and may lead them to believe you aren’t fully focused on the conversation.  Finally, have a glass of water in front of you – you’ll be doing a lot of talking!

3.  Short & sweet.  Phone interviews are usually fairly short – typically about 30 minutes.   Consequently, keep your answers concise. You may not be able to go into every single detail of every single example you provide and your interviewer knows that.  The point is to give them enough information that they want to bring you in for an in-person interview.

4.  Picture perfect. Put a face with the name. See if you can Google the interviewer and have a picture up on your computer screen.  At least then you can visualize the feedback you may be receiving.

5.  Be nimble. Your interviewer may call a few minutes early or a few minutes late – be ready! That being said, an employer also may call you unannounced.  If that is case, and the timing doesn’t work for you it is perfectly acceptable for you to ask to select an alternative time.  Just make sure they know that you are still enthusiastic about the position and speaking with them.

Many people advise wearing professional clothing during a phone interview.   Others advise smiling while you talk in order to convey your enthusiasm and personality.  I find these to be personal preferences and they may work for you or may not. Either way, I wouldn’t recommend spouting your proudest accomplishments while laying on your couch.  Or before your morning coffee. Or while looking the mirror.  Because that’s just awkward.

Any tips we’re missing? We want to know!

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