While job searching, it’s important to be prepared for a phone interview on a moment’s notice. Many companies start the interview process with a phone call to discuss the job opportunity with a prospective employee to determine if the candidate is a good fit, and to gauge his or her interest in the job.
In many cases, your interview will be scheduled in advance by email or phone. In others, you may receive a surprise call.
Here are tips for acing a phone interview:
Prepare as though it’s an in-person interview
Talking on the phone isn’t as easy as it seems. As with an in-person interview, practice can be helpful. Not only will this help you rehearse answers to common phone interview questions, but it will also help you realize if you have a lot of verbal ticks, fail to enunciate, or speak either too fast or too slow.
You can also have someone conduct a mock interview and record it. Once you have a recording, you’ll be able to hear your “ums” and “uhs” and “okays” and then practice reducing them from your conversational speech. It will also help you pinpoint answers that you can improve.
Get ready for the call
Before the call, confirm all the details including the date, time and who you will be talking to. Be sure you know whether the interviewer is calling you or if you need to make the call.
Use a quiet, comfortable, and private space with no distractions so you can focus on the interview.
If the call comes unexpectedly, reschedule
If you get a call without a warning in advance, say you’re delighted to talk to the interviewer, but could you speak later, and suggest a time.
Even if it’s just 15 minutes later, you need to gather your résumé, your notes and your thoughts.
Make sure you’re in a quiet place with a good connection
Use a land line if possible. If you’re talking on a cell phone, let the interviewer know. and apologize in advance for any service interruption.
Make sure children, pets and other possible interruptions are out of the room. Get yourself a glass of water.
Ask the interviewer what he/she is looking for
Say something like, “I’ve read the position description, but I’d love to hear in your words what you’re looking for in this role.”
Though most phone interviewers have a list of questions they want to ask, they won’t be put off by this question.
When you’re on the phone, it’s impossible to read the nonverbal cues that interviewers send in person, like averting their gaze or adjusting their posture as though they want to speak.
Watch the clock and don’t talk for more than one minute at a stretch. Then pause and ask whether more detail would be useful.
Treat the follow-up for a phone interview the same way you would an in-person interview. Email a thank-you note that refers to details in the interview.
Include several concrete, specific ways you would contribute to the company if you got the job.
Did you find these tips helpful? Let us know in the comments!