The Keys to a Successful Phone Interview
Can you hear me now?
If you’re job hunting you may have noticed that multiple phone screening interviews are par for the course. Often employers will only bring a candidate in for that face-to-face in the final stages of the hiring process, even if they’re local.
This is good news for people who hate wearing suits, but what if you don’t present well over the phone? Your job hunt won’t get very far if you can’t make it past the phone screen.
So you get the chance to show off your winning personality IRL, it’s essential to treat these interviews with the seriousness and preparation they deserve.
Over the years I’ve interviewed HUNDREDS of candidates over the phone – in other words, I’ve seen it all. Here are the top 5 thing awesome candidates do to rock their phone interviews. Go get ‘em!
It should go without saying, but you should always be prepared with basic information about the company and the role you’re interviewing for. I get it – you’ve got a bunch of applications out, your interview schedule is packed, but it won’t look great if you’re left asking, “What is this for, again?”
Just because it’s a phone screen doesn’t mean it’s not important. Look up your recruiter online beforehand, see if you’ve got stuff in common. A sense of rapport over the phone will go a long way to getting you through to the next round.
Grab a Pen and Paper
This is old school, but I suggest taking notes on an actual notepad. (Clicking keys on your laptop can be distracting for the interviewer.) Write out a few questions to ask before you hop on the call, and be sure to take a few notes about what the interviewer tells you.
This attentiveness signals your interest, which is a major factor in hiring decisions! It’s not the time to play hard-to-get.
Smile (even though they can’t see you).
Smiling is a fantastic trick to help your voice come across as brighter, happier, and more excited. Don’t believe me? Try smiling and sounding bored at the same time…it’s pretty tough.
Because your interviewer can’t see you, it’s important to convey your appreciation, warmth, and excitement vocally. Weirdly enough, you can do this with your face. I can instantly tell if a candidate is smiling – it makes me feel 10x more engaged, immediately.
So go ahead and grin like an idiot during your phone interview.
Don’t be afraid to listen actively.
Phone interviews are notorious for technical difficulties. Even if you’ve made sure to charge your phone and get to a spot with great signal strength, interruptions do happen.
A way to make sure your interviewer doesn’t think you’ve dropped? A little bit of active listening.
As they tell you about the role, feel free to react vocally when appropriate (an “mhm”, or a quick “yes” works well). Signaling that you’ve heard what the interviewer has said can help prevent that awkward sense that maybe the signal got lost.
HR people are people too! They want to know that you’re listening, excited, and that they’re not talking to a brick wall.
Get to a quiet place and make sure you’ve got an alternate contact method.
Find a quiet spot inside and keep your computer nearby! You don’t want a firetruck blaring in the background or wind drowning you out. Your interviewer can immediately tell when you are outside and the background noise alone can hurt your chances. It’s another sign that you aren’t taking the call seriously.
Also, did I mention that cell connections can be spotty? If you end up with a dropped call or other problem, you have to be ready to fire off an email with an alternate number, or other way to connect (ie. your computer).
If your internet is better than your cell connection, there are several free video conferencing services you can have at hand. Zoom, Skype, or FreeConference.com are all good options to have in your back pocket.
Good luck on your upcoming phone interviews! Just because you can ditch the suit, doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal.