It’s probably a safe bet to say that, at some point in your career, you’re going to have a phone interview. It’s even more likely that many already have experienced phone interviews as a first step in a hiring process, as they are becoming more and more common, saving both you and the hiring organization time and money.
Phone interviews are an easy way for companies, agencies, and recruiters to screen potential candidates for those prerequisite skills and experiences that they are looking for in a new hire. They are also an invaluable tool for those hiring people from out of the state or country.
There is, however, the obvious disadvantage of being a part of a phone interview, and that’s the inability see the other person. You’re not able to read those all-important, non-verbal cues, like body language. This makes it much harder to get a sense of what the interviewer is thinking.
Of course, on the flip side of this is that the interviewer also can’t see you. You can use this to your advantage by having notes or references on hand. You can refer back to these items, which is something that would not be appropriate during an in-person meeting.
The most important thing that you should understand going into a phone interview is simply that you should not underestimate the importance of the call. As with any other situation upon which you are being introduced to another person, first impressions are everything, so take it seriously and be prepared.
Whether your phone rings out of the blue with someone interested in hiring you, or you have a scheduled appointment, a little extra preparation can make all the difference when it comes to your performance. Here are some very useful and important tips to keep in mind for that first interaction:
Preparing for the Call
- Make sure that your phone is fully charged.
- Keep a notepad and pen nearby so that you may take down any necessary notes or information.
- Write the interviewers name, phone number, time and date of the call on your notepad. That way, you can refer back to it and confidently use their name during your conversation.
- Have a copy of your resume on hand.
- Make sure that you are in a quiet, private room to avoid disruption.
- Be on time. Be ready and waiting to receive the call at least five minutes before your scheduled time. You don’t want to rush into an interview.
- Have a list of relevant questions prepared about the company, the job and the reason the position is open.
- Make a list of questions you expect them to ask you with some notes for your answers. That way, you can refer back to them and answer with clarity and confidence.
- Avoid multi-tasking (e.g. playing on the computer) during an interview. It is distracting, and the interviewer can hear what you are doing.
- Don’t say anything that contradicts your resume.
How to Look Good Without Being Seen
Even though the hiring manager can’t see you, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t forming an opinion about how you look based solely on your projected phone persona. So, make yourself look good. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
- Smile while you are talking and imagine that the interviewer is smiling, too; it will come through in your voice.
- Be friendly and polite as if chatting with someone you already know.
- Answer questions directly and concisely with a few sentences, pausing at the end so that the interviewer may respond.
- Listen as much as you talk and take notes.
- Be genuine and honest.
- Remember to breathe.
- Tell the interviewer that you are interested in the job and would like to know the next step in the process.
- After the interview, follow up with a brief and friendly thank you note.
Remember, the goal of a phone interview is to be invited to an in-person meeting where you can continue the conversation, and eventually, get the offer. So be prepared and, above all else, be yourself.
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