Interviews are increasingly being conducted virtually and phone calls are a popular choice. A phone interview can be more challenging because of the absence of a way to read body language and adjust your responses based on visual cues. Most people “pop” in-person and telephone interviews can feel distant and stiff keeping you from putting your best foot forward.
There’s good news though, you don’t have to dress up and you can make notes aka cheat sheets to look at the entire time. Here are some ways to prepare so that hopefully you’re still able to present your best self.
Phone interview preparations and tips
Prepare in advance
Compile a cheat sheet with all the typical answers to interview questions. You know the ones, tell us about yourself, your work history, accomplishments at other places of work, your strengths and weaknesses, why you’re a good fit, and more. Have your resume and portfolio at hand and pull up your LinkedIn profile if you have one. Anxiety can make you forget key things, having them written down helps.
Also, prepare some questions to ask for when the person inevitably asks if you have a question for them. Have a pen and paper close. Take notes throughout the interview to help you remember important questions or issues raised by the interviewer.
Consider placing a glass of water nearby to wet your beak from all that talking. Some people swear it helps to officially dress for the interview while others take the opportunity to be interviewed in their comfortable robe. This one varies on a case-by-case basis so as they say, do you!
Select a suitable location
A phone interview can be prone to many issues including background noise. Plan on being somewhere quiet and comfortable to sit. Get rid of all distractions within your control including TV and computers. Let the rest of the household know you need silence for the duration of the interview.
Avoid cluttered areas. Choose an area with enough room for you to spread out your cheat sheets, resume, portfolio, and whatever else you’re using.
Research the company
As with every other interview, research the company. Find out more about their values, goals, and company culture. Review the job description taking note of the skills they require, the keywords that keep popping up, and the ways in which you meet them. Match your qualifications to the job description.
Practice a mock phone interview
One poll found that 96% of job candidates who had taken a mock interview got the job. Practice your responses. Also, practice speaking slowly and clearly and in a conversational tone. Remain professional at all times and avoid yes or no responses.
Don’t dominate the interview and wait until the interviewer stops speaking to start answering. Try not to interrupt the interviewer. Allow yourself time to collect and organize your thoughts before answering.
It may be helpful to use the technique of rephrasing or repeating questions to give yourself time to think about the answer. Also, resist the impulse to fill the silence when the interviewer is silent after your response. They may just be taking notes. Allow for that.
Closing the call
In closing, restate your interest in the company and the position. If the interviewer has not made it clear, ask about the next steps in the interview process and the timeframes they’re working with. This will give you an idea of what to expect. Thank them by name and try to end it on a positive note.
After the phone interview
Take some time to reflect on the interview. Take note of the questions you were asked that were unexpected and/or challenging, considering how you could do them better next time. If you have the email address of the interviewer, you could write them a thank you email.
Preparation is all that is within your control. As you prepare and try to manage the accompanying anxiety, remember you got a callback. That means something on your resume grabbed their attention and interest leading them to consider you as a potentially good fit for them. Trust that. All the best!
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