How to Ace a Phone Interview

Nowadays, employers often use phone interviews early in the hiring process to learn more about you and your experience.

Think of ways how you are going to have to impress the company over the telephone lines.  This can seem like a strong barrier to overcome but in reality, with the right approach, phone interviews can be seen as an advantage to interviewees.

Performing well on a phone interview can help you land the job you want. As unemployment grows, more companies are using phone interviews to screen large pools of qualified candidates.

Here are some tips to make a good impression throughout the whole process.

Before the Phone Interview: 

  1. Be strategic with your contact information. Let potential employers know the easiest way to contact you. Suggest that you can best be reached at home if it’s awkward for you to take calls at work. More and more companies do phone interviews without any advance notice so do what you can to establish the best conditions. 
  2. Keep a contact log. If you’re sending out multiple applications, keep a contact log so you can keep them straight. You’ll be better prepared for impromptu phone interviews or any return calls if you know which company and position they’re calling about. 
  3. Do your research. A phone interview requires just as much preparation as the face-to-face version. Learn all you can about the company, position, and people you’re going to interview with. 
  4. Prepare talking points and questions. Write down talking points and follow-up questions that you can refer to. It will help you sound prepared and make it easier to remember everything you need to address. 
  5. Warm-up your voice. Your voice matters even more when your body language and facial expressions aren’t visible. Hum or read to yourself for a few minutes to get it into condition. 
  6. Clear away distractions. Let other calls go to voicemail. Ask your kids not to interrupt you. Give the call your full attention. 

During the Phone Interview: 

  1. Be friendly and enthusiastic. Make a strong first impression. Smile and hold your head up. Focus on the positive aspects of the position so you’ll sound excited to discuss it.
  2. Record everyone’s name. If you’re interviewing with more than one person, write down everyone’s name at the outset. It’ll come in handy if you meet them for an in-person interview.
  3. Adapt to the interviewer’s approach. Be yourself but be sensitive to the style of your interviewer. Adjust to their level of formality and the degree of detail they’re seeking. Some employers may just ask a few preliminary questions while others will go into great depth.
  4. Deliver your summary statement. Have a brief summary statement prepared about why you think you’re the right candidate. It should be about 20-30 seconds long.
  5. Avoid interrupting. It can be difficult to judge when someone is done speaking when you can’t see them. Pause for a second before replying to avoid any awkward interruptions.
  6. Request feedback. If you sense any weak areas during the phone interview, try to revisit them.  You can ask the interviewer to clarify their needs so you can offer more information to strengthen your case.
  7. Ask questions that show you’re a good fit for the position. Be prepared to ask questions that demonstrate that you’ve done your research. It will show that you’re really interested in the job and give you another chance to talk about why you’d be an asset.
  8. Clarify the next steps. Ask about their hiring process. They may want to schedule an in-person interview immediately or let you know when they’ll decide on the remaining finalists.

After the Phone Interview:

  1. Send a thank-you note. Send a brief note of thanks by email or regular mail. It’s good etiquette and yet another chance to show you’d make a good employee.
  2. Make follow-up plans. Hiring decisions often take longer than expected. Follow up as needed with tactful persistence.

Never before have phone interviews played an important role in the hiring process. With our current situation though, it has become an essential prequalifying process in hiring. Learning the techniques to ace a phone interview will give you a big advantage in your job search.  

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