Preparing for a Phone Interview

If you’ve ever participated in a work or social conference call, or maybe even tried calling your favorite Aunt Mildred who, due to a youth spent attending rock concerts, is a bit hard of hearing and incessantly yells “what” into the phone, you’re intimately aware of the greatness and fallbacks of modern telephone technology.  People rooms, blocks, states or even countries apart can chat at the press of a few buttons.  On the other hand, reception can get lost, participants can talk over each other, and Aunt Mildred could forget she’s on the phone and keep you on the line while she rants at the mailman wrinkling her magazine subscriptions.

When it comes to phone interviews, these benefits and problems are often exacerbated.  Phone interviews are much loved by HR departments and hiring managers for their ability to allow for quick assessment of a candidate’s basic skills.  Make a phone interview faux pas, however, and you won’t be on the receiving end of a call back or job offer.  Like any other aspect of your job interview, smart preparation is critical to success.  Here are some helpful tips for nailing that initial call and moving forward in the job applicant process.

Prep for the Most Common Questions

Just like an in person query, phone interviews tend to take a familiar route.  Start out your interview prep by developing answers for these five commonly asked questions and you’ll be well on your way to success.  It’s important to remember to keep answers to questions during phone interviews brief and to the point.  Call-in interviews tend to last 5-10 minutes max and serve as an initial confirmation of your skills and background from your resume.  In addition to answers to common questions, develop a short and succinct pitch of why you’re qualified and interested in the given position.  Use these preparation hints and you’ll establish a foundation for quick success.

How to Convince Them

Once you’ve actually scored the phone interview, it’s time to sell yourself and your specific skills to your interviewer and potential employer.  Your main goal during this crucial interview step should be to convince the person on the other end of the line that you’re worthy of bringing in for an in-person interview.  Research the position using the public job posting, networking and research on the company’s goals and culture.  Craft your responses based on this information, treating your interview similarly to an exam or other qualification test.  Meet the minimum threshold, and you’ll be well on your way to earning yourself that critical job offer.

Prep Before Your Call

In addition to the research leading up to your phone interview, you’ll want to perform several critical tasks prior to picking up the phone.  Of your phone interview will have a video component, test out your tech before it’s time to answer the call.  Set up a background, review your lighting and choose clothing that will perform well on a digital screen.  You may want to skype or videochat with a friend or colleague beforehand to iron out any wrinkles to ensure a smooth interview experience.

Whether phone or video, take a few moments ahead of time to relax and focus on the task at hand.  Review and re-review your resume and application so that you’re fully prepared to answer any questions regarding your work history or education background.  Similarly, go over the job description, company website and relevant social media pages and profiles to refresh your recollection regarding the potential employer.  

While these tasks may seem redundant, repetitive or appear to be meaningless minutia, going through the routine helps prepare for your interview in multiple ways.  Much like athletes use muscle memory exercises to train their response time, running though routine questions and answers and familiarizing yourself with common questions helps make your responses more natural, quicker and more on point.  Going through the preparation routine can also help reduce nervousness, providing a vital confidence boost that will show in your overall interview performance.  

While many candidates may dread them, telephone interviews are a vital part of the job-search process and are here to stay for modern employers.  Use our helpful hints during preparation and performance and you’ll be well on your way to nailing the phone interview and moving on to an in-person meeting, a job offer and beyond.

Article Updated from the Original on January 30, 2018