How To Prepare For A Phone Interview
Whether youre trying to launch a career, land an internship, or get into your dream school, first impressions are everything. To get an offer letter, youll need to dazzle the interviewer and showcase yourself in the right light.
Before you hop on the phone, check out these pre-interview tips to make sure that youre prepared and ready to impress.
How To Conduct A Phone Interview: 5 Tips
As more businesses shift to a remote workforce and generally look for efficient ways to recruit top talent, in-person interviews have become less commonplace. If this is new for your organization, youll want to understand how to conduct a phone interview that gives you clear insight into whether a given candidate is the right fit.
It can be challenging as a hiring manager or recruiter to get the same results over the phone, which conceal important cues such as body language and interaction with others in the office. However, if done right, phone interviews can still reveal much more about a candidate than you already gleaned from their resume or social media profile.
The following five tips for helping employers learn how to conduct a phone interview that will net positive results are covered in greater detail below:
Why Are You Looking For Jobs
Employers might ask this question during your phone interview to see if there are any red flags about your employment situation. If you are currently employed but are looking for new jobs, simply explain why. You should make your answer focused on your career instead of personal reasons or small preferences like hours or commute time. For example, you might be looking for new jobs because there are few opportunities for growth or movement in your current role.
If youve been let go for some reason, explain in a positive way that you and your employer decided it would be best for you to find a better fitting opportunity. You should address the ways youve been using your time to improve your skills and work styles.
Example answer:Im looking for opportunities to start my career as a project coordinator. Working as an executive assistant has given me abundant experience in managing and organizing schedules, so Im ready to take the next step in my career. I feel especially qualified for this particular position because Ive worked in the retail industry in my last two administrative roles. Im more than ready to start my project coordination career and would be excited for it to be with your company.
Why Are You Applying For This Position
Another common question, Why are you applying for this position? or What about this job interests you? tells employers whether or not you are serious and have a genuine interest in pursuing the position. To answer this question, use details listed in the job description that made you want to apply. This can be duties listed in the job description, details about the company or something about the job that aligns with your career goals.
Example answer:Ive been working for several years on gaining skills in your industry. I feel I have the knowledge, skills and qualifications youre looking for, along with a unique perspective coming from a different industry. I am passionate about working in the environmental protection space, and it is time for me to make a change. I feel your company is the perfect place for me to do that.
If You Have A Web Portfolio Or A Complete Linkedin Profile Direct The Interviewer To It If Possible
Imagine this: The interviewer asks you to describe a challenge you have faced. Ask if he or she has access to the Internet.
If the answer is yes, suggest they visit your web portfolio or , and have them click on your project highlights page. There, the interviewer will see what you have made public, perhaps an outline of key projects and a terrific graph that expresses your results.
Telephone interviews are truly one of the best reasons for creating a web portfolio or making sure that your LinkedIn profile is complete and shows your accomplishments.
This enables the interviewer to see your value while you talk about it.
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Get Prepared For Your Phone Interview
Even though you are not meeting in person, it can still be crucial to get prepared for the phone interview as you would an in-person interview. Research the company you applied to ahead of time, practice how you will greet the interviewer and how you will answer the interviewer’s questions, and keep your resume nearby during your interview for quick reference. Also, it’s a good idea to write down their name in your notes to keep as a reference throughout your interview.
Additionally, write down some questions that you plan to ask the interviewer during the phone call. For instance, write down any questions you have about job duties, required credentials or any other information you would like to know more about.
End The Call Effectively
If the interviewer is bringing the call to an end without discussing the next steps, speak up! Express your enthusiasm for moving forward, saying something like this:
Thank you for your time today. Ive enjoyed speaking with you, learning more about this opportunity, and I would be very happy to discuss more about it in person.
Ask if email is the best method for staying in touch .
If an in-person interview is not scheduled at the end of the call, find out when and how you can follow up with the employer.
Be sure to ask for contact information of the person, or people, who will be your contact.
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Never Take The Interview Somewhere Noisy
It might seem like common sense, but youd be surprised what interviewers say they can hear in the background of their phone interviewseverything from barking dogs to screaming children. Prepare for the interview by securing a quiet space in advance, even if it means escaping to your car parked in the garage, advises Chere Taylor, founder of Fulcrum HR Consulting. If you can lock your home office door, by all means do it. We’ve all been there and sometimes things just happen, but the more time spent anticipating what could go wrong, the better prepared and organized you will appear to the interviewer and the greater likelihood of success. That doesnt mean that if your washing machine beeps once in the background all hope is lost, but the more effort you put into being in a quiet place, the more focused youll be.
Be Prepared To Ask Thoughtful Questions
Speaking of questions, its important to ask a few questions of your own. Interviews are a two-way street!
Near the end of the phone call, the interviewer will usually ask if you have any questions for them. Be prepared with intelligent questions that cant easily be Googled.
For example, here are a few key questions you might want to ask:
- What does a typical day look like in this role?
- Are there opportunities for advancement or professional development?
- How will my performance be measured?
- Where do you see this company in the next few years?
- Can you tell me a little about the team Ill be working with?
These questions will give you valuable insight into the company. It also shows the hiring team that youre engaged and interested in working for them.
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Insist On The Highest Standards
Leaders have relentlessly high standards – many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.
Direct Them To Your Personal Branding Website
Say whaaat? Personal branding website?
Oh what, you didnt know one of the best new strategies that all the best job seekers are employing?
Its true, having your own personal branding website can be one of the most powerful tools you use as part of your job search.
Why? Well there are dozens of reasons, but most importantly, a personal website will allow you to impress hiring managers, differentiate yourself from your competitors, increase your visibility online and create a hub for your personal brand online.
Not to mention it lets you show off so much more of your personality than your resume or cover letter can. And this is absolutely HUGE for someone having a phone interview, when the name of the game is standing out and being memorable.
What do you think is more memorable? Someone who submits their resume and cover letter and then answers a few questions over the phone or someone who does all of the above and then directs the hiring manager over to their website, allowing them to receive the many benefits I listed above?
Its a no brainer and heres a little secret.
Its not that hard.
Especially since I made a blog post for you that shows you exactly how to do it, How To Set Up Your Personal Website In Under 15 Minutes. This blog post will hold your hand through the process and make it brain-dead easy for you, even if you are terrible at using computers.
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Take Notes And Ask Questions
Take notes and ask questions during your phone interview. For instance, take notes on specific requirements for the job or additional resources to help you prepare for the role if the interviewer mentions them. Similarly, if something is unclear to you, ask the interviewer about it. You can add their clarification to your notes for later reference.
What Is Zoom Is It Safe
Zoom is an online platform for video- and audio-conferencing, much like Skype, Google Hangouts, or even FaceTime. However, Zoom offers a lot more features, and many companies use it to host online meetings, training sessions, seminars, and now video interviews.
You may have heard of Zoom in the news. Since its explosion in popularity, its privacy and safety has been questioned, with technology and security experts digging into the software in recent months and finding some lapses in security. However, Zoom continues to address these issues and release new features to help protect your privacy.
Wired recently reported that Zoom’s security is just fine for most people. If you’re interviewing for a job, you shouldn’t be too concerned. Chances are, the hiring manager you’re interviewing with has taken the proper steps needed to make sure your meeting is private.
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Send A Thank You Note
Do this, and do it soon after your call! The same day is ideal, but a day after at the latest. There are several boxes youll want to check:
- Thank them for speaking with you
- Highlight conversation topics that stuck out to you
- Reemphasize your passion for the role and company
- Keep it short and sweet
Heres an example:
It was great speaking with you over the phone today. I really enjoyed learning more about The Muses mission to help people find companies and careers they love, and especially enjoyed discussing your vision for expanding the consumer product. Id absolutely love the opportunity to join your team.
I look forward to hearing from you about next steps, but please let me know if theres any other information I can provide in the meantime.
All the best,Alyse
For an easy-to-use template and more examples, read this article on writing a thank you email after an interview.
How To Ace A Phone Interview
This is a guest post by Jorg Stegemann, a headhunter with Kennedy Executive Search & Outplacement in Paris. His past articles for Forbes include Job-Hunting Dilemma: Five Reasons Why You Didnt Make The Cut. He offers more advice on his company career blog and .
A good résumé may no longer be enough to get you in the door. Increasingly companies or their outside recruiters want you to go through a telephone interview first. In a typical search assignment with 100 or more candidates, I identify the 15 that interest me most and call them. Based on my impressions during telephone screening interviews, I meet with five or seven of these people. Only three of them make the shortlist that I present to my client.
Whether you make the first cut for a job may depend on what you do before, during and after a phone interview. Here are some ways to up your odds.
BEFORE THE PHONE INTERVIEW
There are two types of phone interviews — scheduled and unscheduled. Often the first contact for a scheduled one comes by email or , but theoretically your phone could ring at any time. So make sure you answer it yourself and have a professional voicemail message.
Unscheduled calls never work in your favor. If you’re caught by surprise, schedule another time to talk. Nobody will blame you for saying something to the effect of, “Great to hear from you. I am not at my desk and won’t be able to give this call the attention it deserves. When can I call you back?”
DURING THE PHONE INTERVIEW
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Email Templates To Schedule Phone Interviews
Scheduling phone interviews online are a common first step in the interview process at many companies. For active candidates, its an exciting foot in the door to the company and an opportunity to speak to why they are a good fit for a position. Keep these points in mind while composing interview invitation emails to active candidates:
- The job search can be daunting and scary. Keep the tone friendly and approachable.
- Be informative. All your candidate knows so far is what was listed on the job description.
- Include your contact information so the candidate can reach you with any questions.
Hi ,Thank you so much for your application to the position at ! I reviewed your application and would love to set up a phone interview to learn more about your background and experience. We can also discuss the position in more detail, especially the tasks.Here are a few times when Im free to talk. Do these work for you?Thanks,
Do Some Research Before The Interview
Odds are youve applied to more than one company and its always helpful to know a bit about who youre talking to, from both a professional and a business standpoint.
Double check the job description youre interviewing for.
Google the company. See how theyre doing and what theyre doing.
If you know whos 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 but dont go overboard.
Its never a good idea to send them a Facebook Friend Request before you even have the interviewin fact, its probably not a good idea afterwards either. Maybe in six months when youve already got the job and youre all good friends having lunch twice a weekbut not yet.
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, youre positioning yourself to be the best possible candidate for the jobor, dare we saythe perfect candidate!
Remember as youre pouring over all those notes you culled about the company and what they stand for that your ultimate goal is to be everything they need in a candidate and that means making sure your answers are specific, targeted and tailoredin a nutshell, customized.
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Research The Company And The Interviewer
Finding out as much as you can about the company and the interviewer will make you significantly more impressive in your phone interview. Youll deliver stronger answers and ask better questions based on what you learn.
Where should you research? Start with the corporate website, do a Google search for news or articles, find them on social media , and ask your network for anything they can tell you.
Cold Candidate Interview Invitation Email
Image via Shutterstock
If you come across a truly excellent potential employee when sourcing candidates, you may want to talk to them immediately especially if theyre in a high-demand role, like a software engineer or developer. Use the following template when reaching out to a candidate for the first time to invite them to an interview.
Subject Line: Opportunity at
I came across your profile on and was interested in your recent work in . Im a recruiter at , and were looking for a that I think you would be a good fit for.
I would love to hear more about you and tell you about the role. Are you free this week for a quick 15-minute call? Im available at the following times:
Please let me know if any of these times work for you.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
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Walk Me Through Your Resume
Many interviewers will ask, Walk me through your resume as one of the first few phone interview questions because it breaks the ice, gives you a relatively easy question, and gives them a chance to learn more about your background.
Also, some interviewers will enter the phone screen without having reviewed your resume at all . So this is your chance to highlight key career accomplishments and take the interviewer briefly through your resume and career story.
Keep your answer to one or two minutes. Its important to stay concise and focused with open-ended questions like this.
And keep the employers job requirements in mind when answering. You shouldnt just share everything youve done you should spend more time highlighting key jobs and experiences that will be most relevant to your next employers needs.
For example, if youve worked for eight years total, but the past four in the same industry as this employer, spend almost all of your time discussing your experience over the past four years in their industry.