Hi there, I’m Karla and I’m part of the Industry Connect Team.
Today I want to touch on the topic of Phone Interviews. And before you say it…Yes businesses today are using phone interviews and other mediums to help them shortlist for face to face interviews.
Now, I would just like to say here, before we start thinking “Yay I can do my interview lounging around in my PJs”, that you need to take this initial interview seriously in order to be in the running for the second interview.
A good old telephone interview might sound like the perfect opportunity to slack and kick back, but in actuality, you have to work even HARDER to make yourself stand out to a potential employer…Remember you’ve only got your voice and energy to project across the phone.
But before we dive into the actual tips for phone interviews
Why do some employers ask for phone interviews in the first place?
- In order to quickly eliminate you as a candidate. This is especially common in big companies. Instead of spending the time and resources needed to bring you in for an in person interview they’ll want to see if you give them a reason to cross your name off the list.
- Interview candidates that are out of town or aren’t able to attend an in person interview for whatever reason.
The point is, this is probably your first point of real contact with the company. While you’re not going to land the job from a phone interview you certainly can lose it!
Unique as phone interviews are in the job hunting world, at their core they are still pretty similar to any other interview and just like I said previously they should be taken just as seriously…if not more seriously.
Yes you heard me correctly. More seriously.
You see, one advantage an in-person interview has is the employer gets to physically meet you…shake your hand, and see one on one just how the chemistry works.
All of these things, which might seem rather insignificant in the moment, are actually critical parts of any interview.
When you’re interviewing via phone, you’re going to have to work even harder to make sure you are coming off as personable, capable, and above all…the perfect candidate.
SO WHAT CAN YOU POTENTIALLY EXPECT IN A PHONE INTERVIEW?
- Usually one interviewer only – not a group
- Hiring manager or HR are trying to see if you will be shortlisted.
- Varying “interviewer styles” everything from casual to formal
- Basic questions about your personal life
- Housekeeping questions (ex. availability, travel, etc.)
- Potential salary expectation discussion
- A few “odd-ball” questions
- Back and forth dialogue – pause and listen.
- Standard job interview questions
- No “next interview” promises
The general practice is for the hiring manager or whomever is the initial interviewer, to assess all of his or her phone interviews and create a short-list of candidates to be brought in for in-person interviews.
Ok, so now that’s cleared up, how do you prepare for this phone interview. Luckily almost all of the standard rules from in person interviews still apply, so the basic prep work is essentially the same but there are some tips specific to phone interviews than can really be of help:
TIPS TO PREPARE YOU FOR YOUR PHONE INTERVIEW
TAKE IT AS SERIOUSLY AS AN IN PERSON INTERVIEW
THIS IS AN INTERVIEW! Treat it like one! That means be ready! Make sure you’re well rested. The last thing an interviewer wants to do is feel as though they’re interrupting something else you’re doing, or worse, woken you up.
When your interview is first scheduled, make sure you set aside time
BEFORE the interview to prep for it.
If it’s an early morning interview, make sure you’re “going” before the phone rings.
Get up, get moving.
Get your vocal cords warmed up. Brew a cup of coffee or tea and be ready for your day. Brush your teeth!
Speaking of getting up and going that means showered and ready like you would be for an actual face to face interview.
This is just as much a mental game as a physical game and dressing the part (even if they can’t see you) can really help you kick your mind into the right frame to get you the job. If you’re slouching around and being lazy, it will come through in your interview…even if you’re trying your hardest to fake it. Trust me interviewers will know from your voice, tone and energy.
Dress the part…get the part.
2. FOCUS AND CUT OUT ALL DISTRACTIONS
Make sure you’re not distracted. Turn off the TV. Let me repeat that. TURN OFF THE TV and that means not putting it on mute but totally OFF.
People can tell if you’re distracted and delaying your answers.
Get comfortable, but don’t get too comfortable.
Find a good spot to sit down and have all your prep materials nearby for easy access.
SIT AT THE KITCHEN TABLE OR A DESK.
Don’t lay down. Don’t slouch. Make sure distractions are not going to be an issue.
If you’re doing the interview at home and you’re not alone, make sure everyone knows you’re going to be busy for a bit and to give you some privacy. Put the dogs outside. Pop in a video for the kids. Have your spouse keep everyone calm. At the very least go into a room where you can shut the door and focus on the task at hand.
So, now that you’re up and dressed, let’s get ready for that interview!
First and foremost, make sure you’re presenting yourself in the most professional way possible, from the very first “Hello,” all the way to the “Goodbye.”
3. DO SOME RESEARCH BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Odds are you’ve applied to more than one company and it’s always helpful to know a bit about who you’re talking to, from both a professional and a business standpoint.
Double check the job description you’re interviewing for.
Google the company. See how they’re doing and what they’re doing.
If you know who’s doing your interview you can see what sort of digital footprint they have and find out more about them on a personal level. Look them up on LinkedIn but don’t go overboard.
The best part about doing this research is it also allows you to tailor your answers when you start getting hit with those interview questions.
Tailoring your answers is the best possible way to ensure that not only are you satisfying what the interviewer is asking, you’re positioning yourself to be the best possible candidate for the job.
Remember as you’re pouring over all those notes you’ve gathered about the company and what they stand for that your ultimate goal is to be what they’re looking for and need in a candidate and that means making sure your answers are specific, targeted and tailored.
4. LISTEN AND DON’T DOMINATE THE CONVERSATION
Yes, this is an interview which means they’re going to be asking you questions, but it’s also an opportunity to show your potential employer that you’re good at listening too.
Talk, but don’t dominate the conversation. Let the interviewer guide the conversation along.
Answer the questions, but don’t turn it into a one sided monologue. This is as much about you getting to know them as it is about them getting to know you.
Keep a pencil and paper nearby so you can jot down questions and notes and save them for the end.
Also a good thing is to have a copy of your resume with you so you can reference it at any time. Keep your answers honest, thoughtful and reflective.
Make sure you breathe as well and speak clearly.
Most importantly, smile! Sure, they might not be able to see it, but your tone of voice will reflect it.
5. PREPARE YOUR OWN “CHEAT SHEET”
Like all good interviews, it’s not just about answering questions, but asking the right ones as well.
The right questions not only help you get information you might need to make an informed decision regarding the job, but it also helps confirm your qualifications as the ideal candidate for the position.
Ask about the different aspects of the job and express genuine interest and excitement in the opportunity.
Take the time to make sure that this is the organization you want to work for…it’ll save you a ton of heartache and headaches in the long run.
Don’t be afraid to dig for more details about the position and the company.
Ask questions about the job that weren’t covered in the job posting…ask about specifics and get details.
You need to know exactly what you’re getting into before you say yes to any job.
Prepare your own list of questions before you start. Make sure your questions are thoughtful and have a purpose. Keep the questions short and sweet.
Remember “It’s not about you, it’s about them.” How can you fulfill their need?
6. SLOW DOWN AND TAKE YOU TIME – DON’T RUSH YOUR ANSWERS
Take your time and take a breath between the interviewer asking you a question and when you start answering it.
Sometimes they might ask a question and then continue to talk rather than waiting for you to answer. Just pause to give the interviewer a second or two after each question before you start so you don’t both end up talking over each other.
Also, as you’re pausing, it gives you a chance to really think about what you’re going to say rather than just rattling off whatever happens to pop in your mind first.
Be thoughtful. Be thorough. Be concise.
And speaking of taking a breath, don’t forget to breathe during those questions!
Take your time and pronounce your words clearly. Speak slowly enough to be understood but not so slow you drop to the dreaded monotone and there’s no
You need to have enthusiasm in your voice while you interview and the easiest way to interject that into the interview is to.., YOU GUESSED IT …. SMILE!!
The interviewer might not be able to see it, but they will be able to hear it…and that can go a long way in making you stand out for all the right reasons.
7. BE READY FOR COMMON PHONE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
So there are some questions which, depending on the job, could possibly be asked in your phone interview. Those questions could be like:
- Are you willing to relocate?
- Are you willing to travel for this job?
- What interests you about this job?
- If you were hired how soon can you start?
It’s always good to think about these questions and have an honest and sincere answer.8.
SEND A THANK YOU EMAILRemember, this stage is about making good first impressions and the fact that you’re doing this all via phone makes the follow up even more critical.
Make sure you not only end your phone call on a positive note, but follow up in a timely manner with a thoughtful thank you email after your interview.
Let the interviewer know you appreciated them taking time to talk to you and that you enjoyed it and that you are invested in the process.
It will help you stand out and reinforce that you’re truly interested in the position. Above all remember that the focus here is on how you ADD VALUE to the company, not just what your past experiences are and what you’re good at.
So here’s to NAILING THOSE PHONE INTERVIEWS EVERYONE.
Catch you next time 🙂
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