Phone interviews. You can have phone interview success in five simple steps. I’ve been interviewed via phone and I’ve done probably 1,000+ phone interviews of candidates for internships and jobs. For many candidates, the road to employment starts with a phone interview. Make a bad first impression, and you probably won’t get to the next round.
Often the first phone interview is with a member of the human resources staff, manager, an employee that is a part of the team you would be working on, or a few members from a hiring committee. These interviews are intended to be quick, usually 15-20 minutes as a way to determine if you are promising enough as a candidate to get another interview, usually in-person.
Prepare for Your Phone Interview
You should prepare for your phone interview just as you would an interview in-person. Do your research about the company on Google as well as on the company website. Re-read the job description and if possible research the people who will be interviewing you. LinkedIn can be a valuable source if you can’t find much on the company website. Also, follow the company on social media. You can learn quickly about how they communicate with their customers and other company news they may share.
Review lists you can find online, or from your university career services office of commonly asked interview questions, and practice your answers. Be well aware of the information on your own resume, how to share your experiences and demonstrate how you are fit for the role. If you are feeling especially nervous, ask a career counselor in career services if you can do a mock phone interview.
Know Where You Will Be Before Your Confirm
Don’t schedule your interview during a time when you are commuting on the train or bus, in class or at work. There could be situations that come up and you may not be able to sneak out as you expect. Schedule your interview at a time you know you will be in a quiet location with a strong cell phone signal. If you have a landline, that would be the better option to ensure the call does not drop.
If you have a roommate or family members that are usually home at the time of your interview, let them know a few days in advance that you will be on an interview, and remind them the day of as well. Be sure you are the person that answers the phone. In the event you have pets, put them in a place where they can’t interrupt your call. No television, no music and no eating.
Dress for the Interview
Ok, so this might seem a little strange but go ahead and dress professionally for the interview. You are reading this and saying, “but they can’t see me”. Yes, I know, but follow me for a moment. When you are dressed a certain way it can impact how you might feel and respond. For most people, putting on a suit or dressing professionally can create feelings of professionalism and confidence. No one will know either way if you do or don’t, but I think it is a good rule to follow. If you choose to stay in your pj’s, get out of bed, sit up straight in your chair or stand. Your posture effects your voice.
Bring your smile. Again you are saying, “they can’t see me”. I know, but they can hear you. People can hear your smile! Smiling makes you sound more upbeat and enthusiastic.
Ask Good Questions
I really don’t like when we get to the end of the conversation and the candidate has no questions. Even one is better than none. You don’t need a list of 10 questions but aim for 3-5 good questions. They can be about the interviewers, the company or the position. Questions like:
- What characteristics do you think a person needs to be successful in this position?
- How many interns have you hired for full-time positions in recent years?
- Can you give me an idea of what a typical day would be like for this position?
Avoid questions that will get you a simple yes or no answer. Ask questions that will give you the information you need to help determine if the position and company are a good fit for you.
Before You Go
Before you hang up the phone, ask the interviewer for their email address (if you don’t have it). It is important that you follow up within 24 hours of the interview to say thank you. The follow-up email gives you the chance to say thank-you, but also to reaffirm your interest in the company and the position. If you want to stand out more, you can drop a hand written thank you card in the mail.
Phone interviews don’t have to be intimidating, but don’t take them too lightly because your interviewer(s) can’t see you. That is all the more reason to be on top of your game.