How To Nail Your Phone Interview
Congratulations! You have a phone interview. I’m going to tell you how to prepare and completely nail it.
Phone interviews can be a bit less stressful than an in-person interview, but in a sense they’re perhaps even more important. Since you’re not meeting in person, you truly need to sound confident and shine through the phone in order to make a great impression and get invited in for the next round of interviewing.
It feels like I have done thousands of phone interviews, the vast majority as the interviewer. I certainly have had my share of some freaky calls – candidates interviewing from the bathroom, candidates driving and getting into an accident while on the phone with me, candidates insisting that they only make $3,000 a year at their full time job, candidates at their cubicle whispering so quietly that I can’t hear them…Okay so you get the point; add the above-mentioned examples to your “do not” list. As for the do’s here are a few suggestions:
One of the most important things that goes into a phone interview is preparation. Not only should you research the company, you should also research the interviewer, and don’t forget to plan ahead in order to find/secure an appropriate space to take the interview.
- Know the company! If you’re going into an interview without a clue of what the company represents and are expecting the hiring manager/recruiter to explain it to you, there’s a good chance you will be nixed immediately. Such a lack of simple preparation will almost be an insult to someone who works for the company. Take the time and understand the company, go to their website, read their mission statement/values/about us page, etc.
- Get a feel for the job. It’s SO EASY to research a job, or even find examples of typical questions that might be asked during an interview for a particular type of job. Spend some actual time — not just a few minutes — understanding the job duties and expectations. This way, you can highlight your relevant experience during the phone interview so you come across as an excellent fit. Glassdoor.com usually has some great info for jobs and interview questions.
- Choose an appropriate setting to take the interview. You know you have a phone interview coming up and that it will probably take 30-45 minutes, so you can just take the call during your normal day-to-day activities, right? NO! Are you kidding me? I have a really hard time understanding how this mistake even happens. Find a quiet spot! Repeat: a quiet spot — one where you can’t be distracted, and where you can have your resume and any other research in front of you.
- Good places are: Your car in PARK, your bedroom, a booked conference room, a quiet spot outside not too close to the road.
- Unacceptable areas: the bathroom, the street, the grocery store, while you are babysitting, around your barking dog, riding your horse (yes, I’ve interviewed someone who was riding their horse).
Understand Your Resume
It’s your resume so you better know and understand everything that is on there. It’s fair game for an interviewer to ask a question about any job or duty listed. Make sure you haven’t added anything that you can’t speak confidently about. Also, be ready to explain an appropriate reason for why you left your last 2-3 jobs. “My boss was a jerk” is NOT going to cut it! Even if that’s the truth, it’s extremely unprofessional to blame leaving a job on anybody else. “Layoffs” is only valid if it’s true. That information can be found, and you don’t want to be caught in a lie. Maybe your last boss was a jerk, but there must have been other reasons, as well. Acceptable explanations include:
- There wasn’t enough opportunity at the company. I hit my ceiling, and I went on to a larger organization.
- The company didn’t represent my values, so I decided to search elsewhere.
- I have a background in XYZ and my skills weren’t being utilized.
- The job description for what I accepted is not what my job turned out to be.
- There is too much down time, I need to stay busy. I’ve asked for more work, but they haven’t accommodated my requests.
- There has been a lot of transition and I feel the company is unstable.
In no way am I suggesting you lie. I’m just asking you to think of a professional, valid answer for when an employer asks why you left your last few jobs. They will most likely ask for details so just be prepared with professional responses and you’ll be all set.
Why Are You a Good Fit?
I GUARANTEE this question will come up. Be ready for it! Once you’ve conducted research on the company and the role, create some bullet points as to why you would make such a great fit. Be sure they are valid points, that they make sense, and aren’t too self promoting.
Smile and Dial
My old boss used to tell me this all the time. She said that people you’re speaking with can hear you smiling through the phone! You know what? It’s true. Have a positive attitude, be confident and personable. Of course the employer wants to make sure you are a good fit skills-wise, but they also want someone they’re happy to work with everyday! Don’t be afraid to show off your personality in a professional manner. I love candidates who make me laugh in a phone interview, it leaves a really good impression on me. Try to connect on a personal level to set yourself apart from the competition.
This might just be the most important point of the phone interview. The interviewer IS going to ask if you have any questions at the end of the phone interview. SHAME on you if you say no! You just dug yourself a grave. ASK QUESTIONS. Have a prepared list of questions to ask. Even if during the phone interview a lot of them are answered – say that! “Wow Mr. Hiring Manager, I had a full set of questions listed to ask you and you answered all of them during the interview! I do have one more, though, I’m curious, how do you like working for XYZ company?” Seriously, ask something, anything that is relevant, of course. If you don’t your seemingly perfect phone interview is the down the drain.
Phone interviews are important, because they lead the way to being invited in to the office to meet in person. I can’t stress how important it is to prepare, and to know what to expect during the interview. If you’re really on the job hunt, take phone interviews even if you’re not necessarily that interested in the job. You can always use the practice! The more phone interviews you have, the better you will become at them.