Ten Phone Interview Tips

Ah, the dreaded phone interview. When the employer or recruiter calls you up, you best be prepared, as that conversation can spell all difference for your job application. The phone interview will typically come before the in-person interview, and recruiters use it to get a feel for a candidate ahead of the in-person meeting. Especially if excellent communication skills are a job requirement, then you need to make that phone call count.

Many applicants are intimidated by the phone interview, and for a good reason—less than 20 percent of job applicants make it through. The good news is that you have a number of ways that you can crack the phone interview stage and get yourself face-to-face with a hiring manager, and maybe even fill that vacant position. Here are 10 expert tips to efficiently deliver a phone interview and successfully get to the next round of the application process.

1. Learn about Your Potential Employer

Getting to know more about the company that you could be working for is essential not only to the phone interview alone but also to the job application process overall. You probably sent that resume to the company because you believe you will be a good fit for them, and learning more about them can validate that thought. Likewise, the recruiter will likely ask how much you know about the company to make sure you align with their mission and vision. Show the interviewer that you have a keen interest in their enterprise, and they might just be impressed by your efforts.

2. Practice, practice, practice

Preparation is the foundation of all success, and since a phone interview requires you to communicate, you need to hone your communication skills and practice proper phone etiquette such as answering promptly, speaking clearly, listening attentively, and keeping interruptions minimal. Likewise, you need to articulate answers to difficult questions that may be asked of you, so make a questionnaire of all the possible questions that they can ask. Some of the most significant ones you must prepare for include:

  • Why are you interested in the position?
  • Why would you be a good fit for the company?
  • What do you think about the responsibilities of the job?
  • Where do you find yourself in the next five years?

These questions require some careful planning to answer, so put in the time and effort to prepare and practice beforehand.

3. Find a Quiet Spot

Hopefully, you provided the recruiter with the days and times that would be convenient for you to receive their call. If you didn’t, and you’re out and about when the phone starts ringing, you need to find a quiet nook where you have the least chance of getting interrupted, fast. Give the phone interview the attention it needs, because it won’t help you much if you get interrupted and lose your focus while trying to articulate your thoughts during the conversation.

4. Always Have Your Resume On-Hand

When you’re job hunting, it pays to keep a resume on your person at all times. Doing so allows for quick referencing if and when required. When that phone call comes all of a sudden, you don’t want the interviewer to talk about a specific detail on your resume that you can’t recall.

5. Smile

Just because the interviewer can’t see you doesn’t mean they can’t sense your nervousness, so smile. When you smile when you talk, it reflects in your voice, and helps you radiate a warm, accommodating vibe. When you practice your answers to the interview questions, practice smiling as well. You’ll likely notice a remarkable difference in your confidence and fluency.

6. Stand

Make sure you stand instead of sit when you accept that phone call. Believe it or not, doing so helps you sound more self-confident and dynamic than if you were sitting down. You can also walk around while talking, as it can add to your energy and enthusiasm. It’s part of the reason why many speakers prefer to move around the stage instead of stand on a lone spot while giving a lecture.

7. Avoid Rambling

You may feel compelled to ramble when the recruiter is uncomfortably silent after you answer a question. They could be taking notes of your answers, or perhaps they’re testing your comfort zone. Either way, don’t wind your answers too long. Be precise, answer a question as best you can, then keep quiet. Don’t worry about the silence.

8. Watch Your Speed

If you’re used to talking fast, you need to slow down and watch your pace. Fast-talking is a sign of nervousness, and to reiterate, you need to convince the interviewer that you are confident. Also, slowing down lets you speak clearly and be easily understood.

9. Take Notes

As the interviewer is taking down notes, so should you. Doing so allows you to remember important items that may come up during the conversation. Likewise, it gives you a more powerful follow-up should some points from the phone interview need to be discussed in the future. Just make sure not to overdo it that you come off as distracted to the interviewer. Write down only the most important points, and you’ll get all the benefits for your note-taking without having to deal with the disadvantages.

10. Seal the Deal

Your goal for the phone interview is to secure an in-person interview, so make some efforts to increase your chances of getting to that next step. Here are some questions to ask before you hang up:

  • Have I answered all your questions?
  • Can you tell me the steps that I must complete after this phone call to secure an in-person interview?
  • Can you tell me when to expect the next phone call?
  • Will you be the one to decide on my application?
  • Is there anyone else you would like me to speak to?

Asking these questions before saying your “thank yous” and “goodbyes” is a great way to show your genuine interest in the job. The more information you have, the better equipped you will be to get to the next step.

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