How to Rock Your Next Phone Interview

Phone Interview

Phone interviews are becoming increasingly common. The ubiquity of smart phones enables us to take them from essentially anywhere, and it’s a way for hiring mangers to do an initial gut check of a candidate before inviting them to meet in-person. If you’ve landed a phone interview, congratulations! Your resume, cover letter, and persistence have gotten you this far. While these conversations are typically shorter than an actual in-person meeting, it’s a potential employer’s first opportunity to learn who you are beyond what’s listed on a piece of paper. Do not dismiss this as a simple formality on the way to an in-person meeting.  Here are a few ways to ensure that you nail that call.

Do your research

The job search process can be an arduous one, and by the time you get someone interested in an initial phone interview, you may have 10 or more applications out to other companies. Make sure you revisit the website prior to your scheduled call. Get a good understanding of what the company is about and, depending on the history they’ve shared, find when the company was founded, the values they base their business on, and, most obviously, understand what they do. Going in blind will only prove a lack of interest. 

The beauty of a phone screen is that you can have notes prepared to help you. Make sure to include the basic facts you’d like to remember as well as a few questions you can ask (and keep notes of important points discussed during the call as well!). If you have the time, don’t limit yourself to just researching the company’s website. Do a Google search as well and find any recent news articles that you can reference, specifically those that reflect the company positively. You may even come across some information that leads you to rethink the prospect altogether!

Be prepared to discuss job transitions 

This call is an opportunity for HR or a hiring manager to get a better idea of who you are, and also to ask any specific questions they may have about your job history. Be prepared to discuss any job gaps or reasons for leaving any and all positions listed on your resume. There may also be parts of your resume that simply pique the interest of the interviewer. Have a copy of your resume nearby so that you can refer to it if needed.

Be mindful of your speech

You aren’t able to show off your best professional outfit, your winning smile, or solid handshake. All you’re armed with is your voice, so make sure your words are clear and concise. Even if it sounds like you’re speaking too slowly, you don’t actually sound as slow as you think! The goal is to come across clearly and confidently. Beyond the manner of your speaking, be somewhat brief in your words. It can be tricky if you’re a little nervous, but do your best to limit your responses to a few sentences. This will hold your audience’s attention much better than long-winded answers, and it will also help keep you on topic.

Plan your surroundings accordingly

Depending on the circumstances, you may not have that many options as to where you’re taking the phone interview (e.g. if you’re at your current job). To the best of your ability, find a quiet, calm place where you can take the call without interruption. The more you can prevent background noise and overall distraction the better.

Send a thank you

This is a best practice for any stage in the interview process,  regardless if the meeting was in-person or over the phone.  When the call is wrapping up, make sure to thank the interviewer for their time. More importantly, send them a thank you email within 24 hours of the conversation. This is an opportunity to ask any additional questions you may have thought of after the call, and also to make note of what excited you about the opportunity after speaking with them. More importantly, it is appreciated on the receiving end. This seems to be a dying trend for job applicants, but it is still expected by those conducting the process.

These are a few important ways to ensure you’re invited to meet your potential future employer in-person after a phone interview. But beyond showing yourself in the best light, interview the interviewer just the same. The end goal is to ensure that this opportunity is a good fit for both you and the company.