Phone interviews can be nerve-wracking: you can’t see your interviewer so can’t get visual cues, and it can be harder to build rapport. But if you prepare carefully, it can be easy to shine in a phone interview. Here are 10 tips to keep in mind.
1. Know what kind of phone interview yours will be. Phone screens range from short and perfunctory to lengthy and in-depth. Ask ahead of time how long to allot for the call, so that you know what to expect.
2. Be prepared. Before the call, go to the employer’s website and read enough to get a good feel for the company’s clients, work, and general approach. Don’t leave the site until you can answer these questions: What does this organization do? What are they all about? What makes them different from their competition?
3. Know the job description. Go through the job description line by line and think about how your experience and skills fit with each line. The idea here is think through the ways you’re a match, so that those thoughts are easily retrievable and can be turned into answers in your phone interview.
4. Think about the questions that you’re likely to be asked, and write out your answers to each of them. At a minimum, cover these basics: Why are you thinking about leaving your current job? What interests you about this opening? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What experience do you have doing ___? (Fill in each of the major responsibilities of the job.)
6. Come up with two to four questions of your own, because you’ll be asked what questions you have at the end of the conversation. Good questions at this stage are clarifying questions about the role itself and open-ended questions about the office culture. You should also ask what their next steps are and their timeline for getting back to you.
7. One great advantage of phone interviews is that you can have notes in front of you. Take the notes that you have from doing steps #4-6 above, and keep them in front of you. Just make sure you don’t sound like you’re reading a script!
8. Use a landline if at all possible. While this isn’t an absolute necessity, if you do have the option, it’s better to get the sound quality and reliability of a landline.
9. Pay attention to your tone of voice. The interviewer can’t see your body language or gestures. All they have to go on is your voice, so tone matters more than ever. You want to sound upbeat, interested, and engaged, not distracted or unenthused. And let your personality come through; a major reason for the phone interview is to get a sense of what you’re all about.
10. Don’t do a phone interview while you’re driving. You won’t be able to fully concentrate, and if the interviewer realizes that you’re driving, it will come across poorly, both because of safety and because it will appear that you’re not treating the conversation as a priority.