Three Ways to Turn a Phone Interview Into a Job Interview

We all know that getting the phone interview is half the battle. It’s a sign that you could be a good fit for the position, but that the company wants to screen prospective candidates in 15 or 30-minute increments.

The phone interview is an opportunity to prove that you’re a good fit, but it’s no guarantee that you’ll make it through to a more substantial interview unless you’re both a good fit for the job description and the company’s culture. How can you prove to the interviewer that you deserve an in-person opportunity? Use the following four tips to pass the phone interview and get a full interview.

Focus on the present opportunity

Far too often getting a phone interview leads one to focus us on the main goal of getting a full interview. However, not being focused in the present for your brief phone interview can cause you to appear disorganized or unfocused.

Don’t flash forward to the job interview before you get it. As hard as it might be, focus on the phone interview rather than whether or not it might result in a full interview. Bring all your attention just to this phone interview and focus on explaining to the screening interviewer your fit for the position.

Study vocal communication skills

Phone interaction is different from in-person interaction. While in person you have your presence and your handshake, on the phone all you’ve got is your resume and your voice. Use the following speaking tips to convey a personable and warm connection during your phone interview:

  • Speak the interviewee’s name every few minutes to build rapport
  • Vary the tone and quality of your voice (be careful to avoid upspeak if that’s something you struggle with)
  • Do vocal warm ups before the call to smooth out your voice
  • Write a script of answers for different questions you typically struggle with, such as “Tell me about yourself.”  

Remember to interview the interviewer, too

One standby tip to relieve pressure and increase your confidence is to focus on the fact that you are interviewing the interviewer, too. The phone interview is the first of several low-pressure chances for you to evaluate whether this is a company you want to work with and a job that will satisfy your career goals. Brainstorm questions you can ask that will help you determine if the job’s a good fit, thus making this interview a mutually beneficial conversation rather than a nerve-wracking interrogation.

Follow up the same way you would for a regular interview

Even without an onsite visit the interviewer has set aside time and energy to speak with you and get to know you. Follow up the same way you would for a regular interview by sending a note via email to thank the person for their time.

Sometimes you won’t have access to the interviewer’s information due to an automated or electronic scheduling process, so finish the interview with a warm show of appreciation. Using the interviewer’s name, clearly say that you appreciate their taking the time to speak with you and (if this is true) that getting to know them has given you a very warm impression of the company overall. Every interaction you have with the company is a reflection on how you will behave as an employee.

As more companies try to be efficient with their time or fill positions with candidates who aren’t local, a phone screening interview is becoming a more natural part of the interview process. Don’t dismiss it or try to skip ahead. Use it as an opportunity to show your character and indicate your fit for the position.