What Should You Do in a Phone Interview?

Even phone interviews can be stressful, so you always want to be prepared. Phone interviews can throw candidates off sometimes, but luckily, we are here to help you nail your phone interview. Below, we will provide phone interview tips on how to best present yourself when you aren't face-to-face.

Phone interview tips

Before your interview

You want to be just as prepared for a phone interview as an in-person interview. First, who are you interviewing with? Often times a phone interview is with a recruiter or human resources as the first step in the hiring process.

This type of phone interview could be shorter and the questions may be more general. The goal of these phone interviews is to confirm your background matches the job description and that you have what it takes to get to the next round of interviews.

If the recruiter thinks you are a good fit for the job, they could bring you in for an in-person interview.

If your phone interview is with the hiring manager, it will be a more in-depth conversation. You will need to be prepared to answer questions about your resume and skill set.

While these are typically done in-person, if you are applying to a job in a different state, you could have multiple rounds of phone interviews. Companies will want to make sure you are a strong candidate before paying for you to travel to their office.

When preparing for any phone interview, you will want to practice answering some common interview questions. Here are a couple of commonly asked questions that the interviewer may ask.

  • Why are you interested in the job?
  • What do you like to do in your free time?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Tell me about your last position
  • Why are you looking to leave your current employer?

Since you won't be sitting in front of anyone during phone interviews, you can keep a cheat sheet in front of you. Prepare your answers to these questions.

While no one can see you, make sure you don't sound like you are reading off a script. Keep a few notes rather than full answers.

Make sure you have examples from past job experiences to back up your answers. You always want to provide context when discussing your past.

Make a list of things you might want to say so you don't forget. These could be professional accolades or achievements you have received. You could also write down something that makes you stand apart from others applying for the role.

It's a good idea to write down a few questions you have for the interviewer. You always want to ask questions too. Check out the company's website before your interview. It can give you an idea of questions to ask if you are stuck.

Search the internet for any new press releases or recent articles on the company. The more information you have in advance, the stronger your conversation will be.

Phone interview questions will be very similar to what you would ask if you were in person. One different question might be asking when they would bring you to see the office and team in person. Asking what the next steps are is always a good question to ask on a job interview as well.

Tips to ace your phone interview

Make sure if you are taking your phone interview on a phone that has good reception. It's important that the interviewer can hear you and that you understand what they're saying. You should also make sure your phone is fully charged or plugged in.

If you are interviewing with multiple people, your call could last a couple of hours. Before the day of your interview, make a test call. This way you know you have good reception and there are no echoes in the background.

Keep your cheat sheet in front of you to reference throughout your phone interview. A huge bonus to being on the phone is the interviewer can't see your notes. You also can be dressed in comfortable clothes.

It's also a good idea to keep a glass of water nearby in case your throat gets dry. Since they can't see you, it's key to make sure your voice sounds as clear as possible.

Make sure to answer your phone when the interviewer calls. Missing a call from potential employers would be a bad start to the interview process. You also want to take your phone interview in a quiet place with few distractions.

If you are in your home with family, go into a quiet room and close the door. It's never a good idea to have people making noise in the background.

Once the interview starts, make sure you are speaking clearly. You should talk a little slower than if you were in person. When giving an example from past work experience, let the interviewer ask follow-up questions.

Even though you aren't in person, it's still a conversation. Say please and thank you when it makes sense to.

Find a way to mention something personal about your career. Since the interviewer can't see your face, consider giving them a tidbit that's memorable and related to the job.

A big advantage of a phone interview is that you can take notes freely. Keep a pen and paper handy. These can help you during and after your interview.

You can use the notes when you put your thank you letter together. It can help make it feel more personal by referencing things you spoke about.

Before the end of your interview, make sure you have the interviewer's full name and email address. You will want to send a thank you email after the phone interview and ask for the next steps. Impressing the interviewer over the phone will put you one step closer to your next job.

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Dave Fano

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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