The Low-Down on Phone Interviews

Phone interviews are used to screen candidates and narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for an in-person interview. A bad phone interview = no in-person interview = no job.

Anyone who hasn’t already been through a phone interview might think it sounds like a walk in the park. Their initial thought is they get to lounge on the couch, don’t have to dress up, and don’t have to prepare. Experienced phone interviewees can tell you that this is the furthest from the truth. The best advice to offer someone who is about to take part in a phone interview is to prepare just as much, if not more, for this type of interview as you would for an in-person interview.

Many feel that phone interviews are actually harder to nail because you can’t use body language to express yourself. Facial expressions, hand gestures, body movement, posture, and eye contact are all indications of how a conversation is going. Without the ability to express yourself in any of those ways, or seeing how the interviewer is reacting to what you are saying, it can make your interview that much more nerve-racking knowing you only have your words to rely on.

Feeling the stress yet? Here’s how you should prepare.

Before the Phone Interview

As soon as you post your resume online, hiring managers and recruiters can call you at anytime. Although phone interviews are usually planned ahead of time via email, it could be on the spot. With that being said, it’s important to make sure your voicemail message is professional. Get in the habit of answering your phone professionally as well. Drop your typical “Hello…?” and simply try “Hello, this is your name.

Nowadays, no one talks on the phone. With all of the apps and websites that allow you to schedule appointments and ask questions online, it’s fairly easy to avoid talking on the phone for months at a time. During your job search, get back in the habit of calling to resolve an issue. Being able to talk on the phone is a great skill to have that many people, especially millennials, don’t possess. Switching it up will benefit you come time for your phone interview.

Another tip to help you prepare is to do a mock phone interview with a friend or family member and record it. You never realize how many “um’s”, or other nervous fillers, come out of your mouth until you listen to yourself speak. You can also hear what questions you stumble on and how you can improve your response before the real deal.

Other than that, the prep for a phone interview is the same for a face-to-face interview. Beforehand, research the company, review the job description, match your qualifications to the job description, rehearse your answers to typical interview questions, have a list of questions to ask after, etc.

During the Phone Interview

If you have a scheduled time for your phone interview, don’t be fumbling around in a loud room when the interviewer calls. Make sure you are in a quiet room ten minutes prior, sitting up straight, with a pen and paper ready. Don’t be snacking or chewing gum during the call and be sure to speak slowly and clearly.

An advantage of a phone interview? You can have notes! Have a cheat sheet in front of you about the company and the position you are discussing. And although you may think you can recite your resume in your sleep, have it in front of you as well.

End your conversation by thanking the interviewer and asking for the opportunity to meet in person.

After the Phone Interview

Just like an in-person interview, send a thank you letter thanking the hiring manager for their time. Reiterate again that you would like the opportunity to meet in person if this meeting hasn’t already been scheduled. If it has, tell them you look forward to the next interview.

Phone interviews should never be taken lightly, and they certainly aren’t easy. Practice makes perfect, and the more you interview over the phone, the better you will get. Hiring managers and recruiters know the awkwardness that comes along with a phone interview so don’t dwell on making it perfect. Review these tips and stay confident!