In many cases, a phone interviews is the first step in getting your foot in the door at a hiring company. They are also a great opportunity for you to practice – and then showcase – your communication skills.
With phone interviews, it’s important to remember that physical cues – style of dress, eye contact, a smile – are replaced entirely by verbal cues; this can be very tricky for some as it is crucial, as we all know, to make a good impression.
To make sure you get that call back for an in-person interview, follow these tips for preparation, the call itself, and how to follow up afterward.
- Select a good time slot when you will have the least amount of distractions and can focus exclusively on the interview
- Know your interviewer; look up their backgrounds on LinkedIn – and be prepared to ask them something specific (and show you’ve done your homework)
- Do your research; just like an in-person interview, you’ll want to show the interviewer why you want to work there
- Compare the job description to your resume so you can quickly and concisely describe why you are the best candidate for the job using their terminology
- Know your resume – be prepared to give a summary of your career (without saying, “It’s on my resume…”)
- Have a pen and paper handy and take copious notes (it’s a good idea to have an extra pen, just in case)
- Prepare questions for the interviewer (but don’t include inquiries about salary just yet!)
- If possible, make sure a landline is available for the call (if your cell phone drops the call, you’ll disrupt the flow of the conversation – and perhaps make a bad impression)
- Have a glass of water nearby in case you need to clear your throat
- Consider dressing the part – suit and all; you’ll get yourself in the mindset of a professional interview!
- If it’s a bad time for you, politely ask to re-schedule the interview; you’re better off restarting the interview without distractions or time constraints
- Watch your voice speed and tone; try to match the cadence of the interviewer
- Also watch your “ums” and “uhs.” The fewer, the better!
- Smiling and using the interviewer’s name will make you sound more approachable
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer (if you do, state “I’m sorry, please go ahead…”)
- Keep your answers concise and relevant
- To help relieve stress and keep you focused, stand up and walk around a bit
- Sincerely thank the interviewer for their consideration and the opportunity
- Ask for a rough timeline of the next steps – and ask how you did (you may not always get an answer, but you sure won’t if you don’t ask)
- Within 24 hours send a thank you note or email – anything to make your name stand out!
The phone interview can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Not every candidate will make it to the next step in the interview process– but following these guidelines will help set you up for success! Even if you realize the position may not be for you during the phone call, you never know what could happen or who you could meet in an in-person interview. Until you get that job offer, try to keep your options open.
About the Author: Kristen Creager is a marketer, musician, and writer living in Los Angeles. Kristen is excited about how her generation is changing the business world, and is passionate about combining creativity with business. She completed her business undergrad education at Michigan State University, and is now beginning her MBA at UC Irvine, focusing on marketing. You can connect with Kristen on Twitter @kristencreag, or visit her website to find out more.