Phone interviews are often used as a first-round step in the arduous process of job searching. While a seemingly simple step, the phone interview is crucial in securing a face-to-face meeting.
Some people assume that since it’s not in person, a phone interview is easier and requires less preparation. This simply isn’t the case. Interviewees should go into a phone interview with the same professional and organized mindset as a traditional interview. Phone interviews are a way to weed out applicants and it’s crucial to show your intelligence and qualifications in an effective manner to make it to the next round.
Consider the following tips for acing phone interviews:
- Prepare in advance: A phone interview isn’t any less formal than a face-to-face interview. Google the company and recent projects to get familiar with their background and accomplishments. Outline the information in a way that you understand and can apply to interview questions and prepare questions for the interviewer as well. Practice out loud a day or two before the scheduled interview so you are confident in the answers.
- Don’t get too comfortable: Create a space that feels professional, similar to how the set-up would be for an in-person interview. Standing or sitting-up straight to helps the voice project properly and keeps interviewees alert during the interview. Don’t take the call if you’re outside walking around or your pets are running around the house. Instead, schedule a call when you know you’ll be able to create the ideal environment. Make sure you have childcare so that the interviewer won’t hear crying children through the phone, and take precautions to prevent background noise, whether it’s noisy neighbors or a loud lawnmower.
- Smile: This may seem like a weird suggestion, but the interviewer will be able to tell if the interviewee is smiling and happy to be having the interview. Since it’s not face-to-face, smiling and speaking positively will help project appreciation and brings energy to the conversation. Your energy and enthusiasm will come through the phone, so make sure that you are keeping a spirited and outgoing attitude.
- Have materials ready: Print out a resume, cover letter, copy of the job description, research notes and any other items that may be of assistance during the interview. If you don’t have a solid cell connection, be ready with a land line option. Also, phone interviews give an advantage here as the interviewee can easily reference their notes and can mark off points they discuss throughout the call to make sure nothing gets missed. Similarly, it can be beneficial to be in a space with internet access in case anything catches the interviewee off guard. Just make sure to mute the volume so typing isn’t audible.
- Follow-up: Just like an in-person interview, the interviewee should follow-up and thank the interviewer for their time. Express interest in the position with details from the call and restate qualifications with specific ways applicable to the position. If possible, recall a few key conversation points from the interview in order to help refresh their memory of who you are and how well your conversation went.
Remember, a phone interview isn’t an opportunity to slack off. It’s an opportunity to show potential employers that you are a self-starter and that you are able to motivate yourself independently and stay enthusiastic even during difficult times.
Kelly Gorham is the President of the Healthcare division at Chicago-based Addison Group, a leading provider of professional staffing and search services. Addison brings specialized practices to deliver the right candidate at the right time in administration, engineering, finance & accounting, financial services, healthcare, and information technology.