Once an employer goes through a stack of resumes, they’ll begin scheduling phone interviews with the most promising candidates. These phone interviews tend to be on the shorter side, but if you do well, you’ll likely be invited for a longer, in-person interview. As such, it’s crucial that you do well on your phone interview so that you can leave the best possible impression.
The Purpose Of Phone Interviews
The primary purpose of a phone interview is to screen candidates and determine if they are worth bringing in for a face-to-face meeting. Phone interviews are typically shorter than in-person interviews, so they are perfect for companies who want to quickly eliminate unqualified candidates.
During a phone call, the interviewer will aim to do the following:
Ensure you have the required skills and qualifications
Narrow the pool of applicants quickly
Test your verbal communication skills
Get a feel for your personality
Tips On How To Prepare Before Your Phone Interview
It’s essential that you do well on your phone interview because it will help you get an in-person interview. If you fumble the phone interview, the odds are that you won’t be invited in and you’ll have lost the chance of getting the job.
As such, the following are a few essential tips to help you prepare for your phone interview:
1. Clarify The Details
Before your phone interview, make sure you have all the details you need. This includes the date, time, and the name of the person who will be interviewing you. The last thing you want is to get the date and time wrong, causing you to miss your interview or be forced to participate despite not being ready.
It’s also helpful to ask about the format of the interview. For example, will it be a one-way conversation or will you be able to ask questions as well? Knowing all of this information in advance will help avoid any surprises and ensure that you’re prepared for your interview.
2. Do Your Homework And Research
Just like you would for a regular job interview, you should do your homework on the company before your phone interview. This means reading up on their website, their recent news, and what their core values are.
Not only will this help you during the interview itself (since you’ll be able to ask questions about the company), but it will also help you decide if this is a company you want to work for. Not to mention that it will reflect poorly on you if it’s obvious you know nothing about the company or the position you applied for.
3. Try A Mock Phone Interview
To help prepare for your phone interview, you should try a mock interview with a friend or family member. This will give you a sense of what the actual interview will be like and allow you to practice your responses. Not only is this a great way to calm your nerves, but it will also help give you confidence.
Before you start practicing, come up with a list of questions that you anticipate being asked. Additionally, come up with a few questions of your own in case the interviewer gives you a chance to ask them about anything at the end of the interview.
4. Prepare Your Salary Range
One of the most important things to do before your phone interview is to prepare your salary range. This means having a sense of what your bottom line is and what you’re willing to negotiate. This ensures that you and the interviewer don’t waste each other’s time moving on to an in-person interview if the salary ranges don’t match.
However, only provide this information if you’re asked for it. Do not bring up anything about money unless asked, or it may not reflect well on you. The interviewer may end up thinking that you’re only interested in the money, and not the company or the position.
5. Have Your Job Materials Ready
Just like you would for a regular job interview, you should have your job materials ready to go for your phone interview. This means having a copy of your resume and cover letter printed out (or at least having them easily accessible on your computer or device).
The interviewer may have questions about the information you have already provided, which means you’ll want to be able to reference that information quickly.
6. Set Up A Cheat Sheet
Because the interview is over the phone, you can use a cheat sheet. This is a document that has all of the information you want to remember (such as your salary range, the company’s core values, etc.) written out. This will help keep you organized and ensure that you don’t forget anything important during the interview.
You can even have the questions and answers you prepared as a way to practice beforehand in front of you in case you need to reference it.
7. Gather Your Tools
In addition to having your resume, cover letter, and notes on hand, you should also gather all other items you might need. For example, you may want a pen and paper on which to jot notes. If you’re using your smartphone, make sure it’s fully charged, and that you have a charger on hand just in case
Finally, a glass of water or a water bottle can be handy to help you stay hydrated throughout the conversation.
8. Find And Prepare Your Ideal Phone Interview Space
Prepare a distraction-free environment for the interview, preferably a space where you can be alone and won’t be interrupted. This might be your bedroom, office, or living room. If you have pets or small children, make arrangements for them to be elsewhere during the interview.
Once you’ve found your ideal space, take a few minutes to set up everything . If you’re taking the call through your laptop, make sure your computer is charged and that you have all of your materials within reach. Also, don’t forget to put phone notifications on silent to make sure you won’t be getting any other calls, messages, or notifications.
9. Record A Professional Voicemail Message
In case you are not available to answer your phone due to unforeseen circumstances, make sure you have a professional voicemail message recorded. This means having a brief but attention-grabbing message that will make the interviewer want to leave a message. Your voicemail should include your name and how they can reach you.
10. Dress Up
Just like you would for a regular in-person interview, it’s important to dress up for your phone interview. This means putting on business clothes even if you’re doing the interview from home. It may seem silly, but it will help you to focus on the interview and stay in character. Plus, dressing to impress (despite not being seen) can help give you a boost of confidence.
11. Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Last, but not least, make sure you get a good night’s sleep before your interview. This will help ensure that you’re well-rested and alert for the interview.
Phone Interview Tips During Your Call
Being fully prepared will do wonders for your phone interview. However, make sure to keep the following tips in mind as well to make sure your interview goes as smoothly as possible:
12. Start With The Right Tone
The tone of your voice can set the mood for the entire interview. You want to come across as confident and articulate, even if you’re feeling a little nervous. Remember, the interviewer can’t see you, so they will be judging your tone and demeanor based on your words alone.
Additionally, you’ll want to set the tone for the entire interview by being polite and respectful from the start.
13. Learn How To Make Small Talk
In addition to answering questions, you’ll also need to engage in some small talk. Small talk is a great opportunity to show your personality and to make a connection with the interviewer.
The interviewer will engage in small talk at the start of the interview to warm up and make you feel at ease. If you can’t reciprocate, it may get awkward, so prepare a few topics that you could talk about.
14. Let The Conversation Breathe A Little
Take a few seconds to collect your thoughts before answering a question. Pauses can also be helpful in case you need to gather more information or if you want to avoid overlapping responses. Just make sure not to take too long or the interviewer may think you’re lost.
15. Keep Your Voice Interested
Maintaining a positive and upbeat tone of voice is key to having a successful phone interview. If you sound bored or disinterested, the interviewer will likely pick up on it. Instead, try to sound excited and interested in the position. Doing so will keep the interviewer engaged and make them more likely to move you to the next round.
16. Enunciate Properly
Since the interviewer can’t see you, you must enunciate your words properly. Speak slowly and clearly so that the interviewer can understand you. Avoid mumbling or speaking too quickly. If the interviewer keeps having to ask you to repeat your responses, it might derail the conversation.
17. Tune Your Listening Skills
One of the essential skills to have during a phone interview is the ability to listen. Pay attention to the questions being asked and don’t interrupt. You should also take notes so that you can refer back to them later. Not only will this show the interviewer that you’re taking the interview seriously, but you’ll also be able to answer any follow-up questions that they may have.
What To Do After Getting Off A Phone Interview
Once you’ve finished your phone interview, don’t just sit back and wait for a response. You’ll want to do the following to ensure you leave a good impression:
18. Jot Down Key Points
After the interview, take a few minutes to jot down some key points that you want to remember. This can include anything from the questions that were asked to the name of the interviewer. This will help ensure that you don’t forget any important details and that you’re able to follow up properly.
19. Send A “Thank You” Email Afterwards
Sending a thank you email is always a good idea. Not only does it show that you’re appreciative, but it also gives you another opportunity to reiterate your skills and character. Be sure to mention anything that you forgot to bring up during the interview. A polite thank you shows a lot about your character and helps keep your name at the top of the interviewer’s mind.
20. Follow-Up If You Don’t Hear Back
If you don’t hear back within a few days, it’s ok to follow up with the interviewer. Just be sure to avoid being too pushy or aggressive. A simple email or phone call is usually enough to get the information you need. By staying on top of things, you’ll ensure that you’re not forgotten and that the interviewer has all the information they need to make a decision.
Additional Tips For Success
On top of everything previously discussed, the following are a few basic phone interview tips that can help improve your chances of success:
Be brief but detailed in your responses:
When answering questions, respond in a concise manner, providing enough information but without rambling on. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so. Just be sure to offer up another solution or explanation.
Smile while you are talking:
Even if the interviewer can’t see you, it will help to project a positive image. Not only will this make you sound more enthusiastic, but it will also help you relax.
Follow the lead of the interviewer:
If the interviewer asks a question that you don’t understand, ask them to clarify. Otherwise, try to follow their lead and avoid any unrelated tangents.
Answer the phone yourself:
If you’re expecting a call from the interviewer, be sure to answer the phone yourself. If someone else answers, it can appear as if you weren’t prepared for the interview despite knowing the time it would take place.
What Not To Do During A Phone Interview
Knowing what to do during a phone interview will certainly help, but there are a few things to avoid doing as well. The following are a couple of things you should be sure to avoid during a call:
Don’t smoke, chew gum, eat, or drink:
Not only is it rude to do any of these things during a phone call, but they can also be distracting. It’s also important to stay away from noisy environments as they can make it difficult for the interviewer to hear you.
Don’t interrupt the interviewer:
It’s important to let the interviewer finish their questions before you start answering. Otherwise, it can come across as impolite, but it can also be overwhelming for the interviewer.
Don’t do other things while you’re on the call:
Don’t multitask. Multitasking includes things like checking email or engaging with someone else (e.g., on a messenger app). Focus all of your attention on the interview. By doing otherwise, you could miss important details and come across as unprofessional.
Your Dream Job Is Just A Call Away – Prepare Well And Land The Position
Phone interviews can be daunting, but by observing a few tips and advice you’ll be sure to make a great impression. Just remember to be confident, provide clear and concise responses, and stay calm. With a little preparation, you’ll be one step closer to landing your dream job.
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