Prepare for your Phone Interview
It is common to go through one or multiple phone interviews prior to being invited for an in-person interview. So as a candidate, how do you prepare for the phone interview to ensure you make it to the next stage?
While there is less stress when conducting a phone interview as you can take it from the privacy and comfort of the location of your choice. No one can see you, so you can have all your notes and resume handy and you don’t have to dress up. However, this does not mean that you take a phone interview any less seriously. The result of the phone interview will determine whether or not you advance to the next stage of the interview process. Here are a few tips to effectively handle a phone interview:
- Ask your recruiter ahead of time who you’ll be talking with. Look their profile up on LinkedIn and see if you have anything in common, if they have posted any articles you may gain insight into their communication style.
- Prepare the night before by conducting some company research and create a list of anticipated questions you might be asked based on what you’ve learned. The first phone interview will typically ask general questions about your background, your career highlights, your skills and experience, so keep your resume on hand to help you quickly recall dates or recall relevant accomplishments.
- Settle yourself comfortably, ideally somewhere you won’t be disturbed. Switch off any devices with alarms or notifications that might go off and distract you during the interview. Avoid answering any incoming calls unless there is an emergency. Don’t put your phone on speaker as ambient noise will be picked up.
- Give yourself a pep talk and remember all the things that make you someone your client would be lucky to have.
- Once you begin the interview, keep a smile in your voice and be prepared to make some small talk to break the ice.
- Allow your interviewer to lead the interview, and follow their tone and pace. Do not just assume they want you to launch into your career history. Only discuss what is specifically asked.
- Be yourself (an “in a good mood” version of yourself), be friendly and infuse some enthusiasm into your voice when you’re talking about your career. You do not want them to think you are bored, uninterested, or not passionate about the job.
- Listen to each question carefully and respond with concise, fact-filled sentences; responses should be limited to 90 seconds. Don’t ramble on or go off on tangents they did not ask you about.
- If you are unsure whether you answered their question appropriately, ask clarifying questions such as “did that answer your question?” or “is that what you were looking for?”.
- Take notes as you go so you remember what questions to ask. Sometimes, if they are a conversational interviewer, you can integrate questions into the interview in real-time, but if not given the chance, then just wait for them to ask whether you have any questions.
- In addition to questions that arise during the interview, make sure you’ve prepared some additional questions, some samples are:
- What are you looking for in the “ideal candidate?”
- What are the critical factors for success on the job?
- What are your company’s short and long-term goals?
- Why is the position open?
- Never – EVER ask about the compensation during your phone interview. This is something that should only be discussed with your recruiter. Now if the client brings the issue up, that’s a different situation. Feel free to answer them candidly unless you think you can’t until you’ve gone further into the process.
- When the interviewer completes their questions, don’t ask how you did. You’ll know when they schedule the second round with you. You can ask them for the next interview by saying something like, “when will I hear about next steps as I’d be honored to move to the next level?”.
- Always thank the interviewer for their time when the call’s over and let them know if you are interested in proceeding. Soon after the call, send a “thank you” email to them or ask your recruiter to forward them one.
- Call your recruiter immediately afterward to debrief them and let them know your interest level and if you have any new questions they should find out for you.
- Follow-up with your recruiter or main contact person within a few days if you haven’t heard from anyone. Be proactive at this stage in the process.
Have you ever blown a phone interview or interviewed someone who blew it? What happened?