8 Phone Interview Tips

January 11, 2017

Your resume is excellent, you have caught a potential employer’s attention and now they want to get to know you better.


In years gone by that would have meant an in person interview but in today's increasingly busy digital world, many preliminary and some final interviews are being held in a wide variety of mediums including on the phone.


Just because you are not face to face with a potential employer does not mean it is time to throw all the hard learned interview rules out the window.


A good telephone interview might sound like the perfect opportunity to slack and kick back, but in actuality, you have to work even HARDER to make yourself stand out to a potential employer.


Before we dive into the actual tips for phone interviews, why do some employers ask for phone interviews?


  • To quickly eliminate you as a candidate. Instead of spending the time and resources needed to bring you in for an in person interview they will want to see if you give them a reason to cross your name off the list.

  • To interview out-of-town candidates or ones not able to attend an in-person interview.


The point is, this is probably your first point of real contact with the company. While you are not going to land the job from phone interview (most likely) you certainly can lose it!


Unique as phone interviews are in the job hunting world, at their core they are still pretty similar to any other interview and should be taken just as seriously…if not more seriously.


One advantage an in-person interview has is the employer gets to physically meet you…shake your hand, and see one on one just how the chemistry works.


All of these things, which might seem rather insignificant in the moment, are actually critical parts of any interview.


When you are interviewing via phone, you are going to have to work even harder to make sure you are coming off as personable, capable, and above all…the perfect candidate.


So, how do you prepare for this employment screening? Luckily almost all of the standard rules from in-person interviews still apply, so the basic prep work is essentially the same but there are some tips specific to phone interviews that can really help:


1.  Take it as seriously as an in-person interview.

Prep for the interview and be well rested. Do not try to wing it. If your interview is first thing in the morning, give yourself plenty of time to shake out the cobwebs. Next, dress for the part and get out of your comfy clothes. It is just as much a mental game as a physical game and dressing the part can help kick yourself into the right mindset. Be professional from "hello" to "goodbye".


2.  Focus and remove all distractions.

Turn off the television and that does not mean to put it on mute. If you are at home, make sure everyone knows you are going to be on an interview and go into a closed room. If possible, put dogs outside of the house and other pets outside of the interview room. Interview sitting up and in a comfortable chair.


3.  Have all of your research close at hand.

It is helpful to know a bit about who you are talking to, from both a professional and business standpoint. Google the company. If you know who is interviewing you, check their digital footprint, but, do not go overboard. For example, do not send them a Facebook Friend request. The best part about doing research is the being able to tailor your interview answers and questions. If it has been a while since your last interview, you may want to research "job interview questions and answers".


Also, remember to have your resume close at hand.


4.  Listen and do not dominate the conversation.

Talk, but do not dominate the interviewer. Let the interviewer guide the conversation. Answer the questions, but do not turn it into a one sided monologue. This is as much about you getting to know them as it is about them getting to know you.


Keep a pencil or pen nearby to jot down questions and notes and save them for the end. It is important to let the interviewer know you are interested in the company and that you were paying attention during the interview. So, have questions ready.


Breath, speak clearly and do not forget to smile. They might not be able to see it, but your tone of voice will reflect it.


5.  Prepare your own cheat sheet.

Like all good interviews, it’s not just about answering questions, but asking the right ones as well.


The right questions not only help you get information you might need to make an informed decision regarding the job, but it also helps confirm your qualifications as the ideal candidate for the position.


Ask about the different aspects of the job and express genuine interest and excitement in the opportunity.


Take the time to make sure that this is the organization you want to work for…it’ll save you a ton of heartache and headaches in the long run.

Don’t be afraid to dig for more details about the position and the company.

Ask questions about the job that weren’t covered in the job posting…ask about specifics and get details.


You need to know exactly what you’re getting into before you say yes to the job.


Remember though to keep these questions short and sweet. Again, remember, “It’s not about you, it’s about them.” How can you fulfill their needs?


6.  Slow down.

Take a breath between interviewer's asked question and your answer.


Sometimes people ask questions but then continue to talk rather than waiting for you to answer. Give the interviewer a second or two after each question before you start so you don’t both end up talking at once…which can be awkward to say the least. Pausing will allow you to think before rattling off the first thing to your mind. At the same time, do not be so slow you drop into monotone. You need to have enthusiasm.

Be thorough. Be concise.

7.  Be ready for common phone interview questions

As stated previously, prep for the interview questions. It will help with the nerves. One thing not to focus on during an initial phone interview is salary.


Are you willing to relocate?

What interests you about this job?

When can you start?...


Be honest. 


At the end, the interviewer may ask if there is anything else you want them to know that was not cover in this interview. This is a great time to let them know of your personal website or how you are branding yourself. 


8.  Send a thank you email after phone interview

Follow-up in a timely manner with a thank you. Remember, it is about making a good first impression. The follow-up is even more critical with a phone interview. Let them know you appreciate them taking time to talk to you and that you are invested in the process. Also, do not forget to add your phone numbers in your signature.   


Above all remember the focus here is on how you add value to the company and not just what your past experiences are and what you are good at.


Gillis, Jeff (2015). "8 Phone Interview Tips That Will Land You a Second Interview". Retrieved from http://theinterviewguys.com/phone-interview-tips/.

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