A phone interview is quite typical for the first round and subsequent job interviews, so it is crucial that you are well-prepared to handle them. The key to acing a phone interview is to treat it as if it were an in-person conversation and prepare for it the same way. Since a phone interview can often determine if you move forward as a candidate, it is worth your extra time and attention.
In addition to having your resume, the job description, pen, paper, computer and a glass of water handy. Here are a few tips to make sure you have a good chance of nailing the phone job interview.
Phone Interview Tips
Clarify the details. Since you may not be in the same time zone as the interviewer (a common reason for phone interviews), be sure to clarify the time of the interview in both your time zone and the other, and confirm who is calling whom.
Use notes to your advantage. The best part about a phone interview is that you can have your notes in front of you (and the interviewer can’t see them). So have a copy of your resume, bullet points about the experiences or skills you want to mention, and a list of questions written out ahead of time. This interview is one time that you’ll have the gift of invisibility—use it to your advantage!
Dress the part. This is a mental tactic. Looking nice puts you in the right mindset to be professional.
Make sure all systems are a go. Make sure you are in a quiet place with a charged phone and a glass of water. Call a friend beforehand from the room where you plan to have the interview, making sure they can hear you with no distractions. Dropped calls are frustrating for everyone and can have a negative impact on the interviewer’s perception of you. (It might be worth it to run home to take the call from your home, and not trying to find a spot to do it from your office.)
Also, keep your phone charger handy, just in case the interview is going so well that your charge starts to run down.
Make sure you won’t be interrupted. Interruptions during an interview can make you seem unprepared and that you lack interest in the job. Choose a place where you will be undisturbed for the entire interview. Move any distracting items off the table in front of you.
Allow extra time. Interviews often get delayed or go over their scheduled time. You never want to be worried about getting back to the office, being on time for a call with your boss or picking up your child, as any obligation will divide your attention. Keep in mind that if the interview goes well, you may be asked to speak with someone else immediately – and that person could be your future boss! Always allow extra time for a phone interview.
Block out the noise. If you are home during the interview, make sure you close windows and shut doors. Ambient noise (sirens, barking, crying or lawnmowers) can be very distracting to both you and the interviewer. Here’s why. If the interviewer can hear the noise, then it’s likely he/she isn’t listening carefully to what you’re saying. If you can hear the noise, you may lose focus and not be able to answer a question as emphatically as you could have.
Use headphones, and not a speakerphone. When a call is on speaker, small sounds are amplified, and it can be hard for someone on the other end to hear you. Use headphones to increase clarity and avoid neck discomfort when holding the phone to your ear during long conversations.
Sit in a chair. Your voice projects more strongly from a chair. Avoid sitting on a couch, recliner or bed, as they often cause you to naturally slouch. Instead sit in a comfortable chair in which you can sit with your back straight and be comfortable. Your seating posture affects the strength and energy of your voice.
Silence your phone. Whether you are using your cellphone for the interview, make sure your ringer is turned off, and the phone is on silent (not on vibrate). Also turn the phone face down to prevent distractions from texts or notifications.
On your phone, switch off Wi-Fi or other internet connectivity. Make sure there is no chance of an interruption that might make you misunderstand or fail to hear a question. If the interviewer hears those sounds, they may get annoyed or wonder if you’re paying full attention.
Follow up with a thank you, just like you would in a face-to-face interview. If an assistant set up the call, send a quick note thanking him or her for helping facilitate the interview.