You’re in the midst of a strenuous job search, when all of a sudden, it happens: You finally get that email from a recruiter requesting an initial interview. For most people, this means scheduling time for a phone call. Although it may seem intimidating to try and showcase your entire portfolio and personality just through your voice, a few secrets will help you get through. The following tips will help you make a positive impression during your phone interview, so you can confidently move on to the next stage of the hiring process.
5 Tried-and-True Phone Interview Tips to Help You Impress Future Employers
1. Get all the details ahead of time.
Ask the recruiter to include the full date and time (including time zones) on the calendar invite. This will ensure you know exactly when to block your schedule to minimize interruptions or distractions. You can also ask them to include the number the interviewer will call from to ensure you don’t mistake it for a spam call. When you respond to the calendar invitation, reply back confirming your contact information, such as your email and phone number. Ask the recruiter to confirm they have the correct information on file to pass along to the interviewer.
2. Do your research.
Before you get on the phone, ask the recruiter to give you the name and title of the person you’ll be speaking with. While you won’t find everything you need to know online, looking at their LinkedIn profile will help you understand their career history and lend some insight into what they bring to the corporation. Not only will this make it easier for you to understand their role in the hiring process, but it will also open the door to a bit of friendly conversation.
Next, research the company you’ll be interviewing with. Scour their website for information on their history and services, and see if you can find a roster of past clients or projects. Do a Google search to see if the enterprise has any notable achievements or public service campaigns. If you find something that piques your interest, bring it up during the phone call. This will start a conversation that provides more insight into the company culture and objectives—both of which are crucial components in finding the right fit in a new job. Additionally, it will show the interviewer you’re prepared for the conversation and a proactive participant.
3. Practice your speaking skills.
During an in-person interview, you have the benefit of body language and facial expressions to help the other participant understand what you’re saying and the context you’re trying to convey. When you’re on the phone, all you have is your voice — so make sure you use it properly.
The key is to practice. Sit back-to-back with a friend or family member and have a mock interview. Ask them to stop you when you utilize too many verbal fillers like “umm” or “uhh.” They should also point out if you speak too quickly or mumble. When they point out a weak spot, stop the conversation and start from the beginning. Practice being mindful and deliberate with your words, taking it slow, and giving yourself time to fully formulate a coherent thought.
You should also practice being vocally engaged. During a face-to-face conversation, you can utilize head nods or smiles to indicate you’re paying attention. Over the phone, you’ll need to be more vocal. Practice using comments like, “I agree” or “I understand” at the appropriate moments to show the interviewer you’re engaged in the conversation.
4. Prepare some questions.
The purpose of a phone interview isn’t just for the employer to get to know you. It’s also an opportunity for you to learn more about the position and the company to see if it’s a right fit. Before the call, prepare four to six questions you want the interviewer to answer. About half of those should be geared toward the intricacies of the role and what will be expected of you — this will show the interview you’re already thinking strategically about the position and your growth within the company. The rest of the questions can be used to help you learn more about the emotional components of the opportunity, such as the department dynamics or company culture.
5. Find a quiet space to have a phone interview.
The last thing you want to happen during a great conversation is to be interrupted by someone barging through the door or a loud siren going off in the distance. Find a quiet place to have your phone call, whether it’s at home, in a huddle room, or in your car. Make whatever arrangements are necessary a few days ahead of time so you can get to this location without any trouble. Arrive about 20 minutes before your call to ensure the location is still suitable. If it is, use the extra time to prepare yourself and go over your notes.
During your job search, the hardest part is getting your foot in the door. Once you’ve landed a phone interview, all you have to do is be yourself and showcase your best features. With a bit of preparation and thought, that first conversation can easily lead to an impressive offer.