Companies use phone interviews as their initial screen of candidates, so they can determine which ones will be invited in for a face-to-face meeting. Often, phone interviews are prearranged, but it’s possible you may receive a surprise call. Either way, the key to success is being prepared.
Preparation for a phone interview is similar to getting ready for an in-person interview, with some exceptions.
- Don’t blow your chances before you even get started. While you’re in the process of a job search, always answer your phone professionally. Likewise, make sure your outgoing voicemail message is tasteful and appropriate.
- Compile lists. These include a summary of your strengths and weaknesses, answers to typical interview questions, and the questions you plan to ask during the interview.
- Review the job description. Take time to match your qualifications to key requirements.
- Research the company and your interviewers. Assess how you can best build rapport, which can be a bit more challenging on the phone than in person.
- Confirm the details ahead of time. Double-check the date and time of your interview, and whether the hiring manager is calling you, or vice versa. If you receive an unplanned call and it’s not a good time, politely request a call back.
- Not only will this help you rehearse your answers, it also will make you realize if you have any verbal ticks, fail to enunciate or speak either too softly or too loudly. Have a trusted friend conduct at mock interview with you. Record it, so you can hear how you sound.
- Prepare your interview space. It should be quiet and comfortable. Eliminate any background noise or interruptions. Your sole focus should be on the interview. Lay out your notes; this is one of the advantages to interviewing on the phone. But remember: You don’t want to appear disorganized or be heard shuffling through pages. Have a pen and paper handy to take notes, as well as a glass of water in case you need it. Turn your call waiting off, and make sure your reception is good.
- Consider using a headset. Then, you can walk around, use your hands as you typically would when speaking and more easily refer to your notes.
During your interview:
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- Use the person’s formal title. Only use their first name if they have specifically asked you to.
- Even though your interviewers can’t see you, this projects a positive image and helps you relax and feel less stressed.
With the right preparation and confidence, you’ll succeed in giving your interviewers just what they want: the perfect candidate for the job.
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