You’ve written the perfect cover letter. Your resume is spotless. You’ve been contacted by the employer to conduct a phone interview with them.
Do you know how to bridge the gap between a traditional interview and a successful phone interview?
Many of the cues and communication that occur during a face-to-face interview are lost, and you are required to rely on the phone interview to carry you through to the next level of hiring.
Here are some phone interview tips to help you advance to the next step of the interview process.
10 Tips for a Successful Phone Interview
1. Choose a quiet space.
It cannot be stressed enough that distractions can kill the most perfect interview. You do not want to have anything that makes noise or takes your attention away from the interview. Smartphones and devices can pick up and transmit sounds that you may not even think could be heard, distracting both you and the person interviewing you.
Never plan to interview when kids are around or sleeping, as they are unpredictable and noisy. Avoid places like the outdoors, your car, or any other noise-prone area. Telecommuting requires a quiet space to work, and you need to demonstrate to your potential employer that you have the right area to complete their tasks.
2. Remove distractions.
If you are in a home office, or another room with distracting items like computers, books, magazines, laundry that needs to be folded, etc., remove those distractions before you begin the interview. Turn off your computer and cell phone, put away the laundry, and hide the books and magazines. Turn off notifications on your cell phone if you’re using it for the interview so you’re not dinged with needless social media and text message sounds.
3. Outline your talking points.
A benefit to doing a phone interview over a video or in-person interview is that you can easily have notes available to reference.
Research tough interview questions and prepare answers. Jot these down on a notepad that you can keep near the phone. You should have a 30-second elevator speech prepared as well, explaining why you applied for the position and why you believe you would be a good fit. Know how your abilities fit with the position and be prepared to discuss how you see yourself succeeding in that role.
4. Consider what you wear.
Even if it’s a phone interview and your interviewer won’t see what you look like, that doesn’t mean your yoga pants are the best way to go. The cliché adage can be true: dress for success. Dress in a way that will make you feel your best and feel like a professional.
Maybe that means you need to put on slacks and nice blouse as you would for an in-person interview. Or maybe you can put on jeans and still feel good. Whatever the case, be cognizant that what you wear can affect the confidence you portray on the phone.
5. Test your tech.
Before any interview, you should always make sure that your equipment is functioning. If you’re using your cell phone, check that your signal is strong. If you’re using an online platform, such as Skype or Zoom, check your Internet connection to make sure it’s fast and reliable. You can always do a test run with a friend to make sure your settings (like your mic and camera) are all working. This is a phone interview tip that absolutely cannot be overlooked, as rescheduling can present problems.
6. Properly prepare.
Betsy Andrews, one of FlexJobs’ career coaches, offered this advice: “Prepare, prepare, prepare. Practice answering common interview questions and remote-specific questions, and do a little digging on Glassdoor to see if there are company-specific interview questions listed.”
You should also have pertinent information at your fingertips. It’s a good rule of thumb to have a copy of your resume, information about the company, the job description, and correspondence from the company readily available. It’s also helpful to have something to write with and paper to take notes.
7. Smile and watch your body language.
This might be a confusing phone interview tip to some to smile when you are not actually happy or laughing about something, but the sound of a smile comes through in your voice. Smiling during a phone interview can not only make you sound excited and happy to be talking about your qualifications, it can also calm your nerves and make you feel better.
Try saying these words out loud: “I’m really interested in this job.” And now again, but with a smile on your face. Did you hear the difference? Smiling while talking elevates your voice and it’s noticeable to others. Not only that, but smiling is likely to improve your own mood and attitude and can carry through to the rest of the interview.
In that same vein, your body language can affect a phone interview as well. Sitting up straight, not fidgeting with your hands, and managing your breathing can all lead to a more confident you.
You could also do the interview standing up. Standing up makes your voice clearer and allows you to take deeper breaths. Standing up while talking during a phone interview can allow you to pace and calm your nerves. Standing up can also convey confidence in your voice and assertiveness about your qualifications and skills.
8. Don’t interrupt.
On a phone interview, you need to be more aware of pauses in conversation. Give more time than you would normally after an interviewer is speaking to ensure they’re done talking. Speaking over the other person on a phone call often garbles the sound and leads to a round of, “Oh, sorry, what did you say?”
The conversation is likely to run smoother if you give ample time to let the interviewer finish speaking before you start in on what you have to say.
9. Ask questions.
Interviews need to take a professional and conversational tone. Participating in the dialog is going to show your interest in the position and give them information about you.
Andrews offered this phone interview tip: “Instead having to rely on remembering pertinent questions to ask, have a list ready and beside you during the call. I recommend having a minimum of four listed in case they have already covered a couple of them before asking if you have questions. Some examples include:
- What makes it really good day?
- What makes it a challenging day?
- What does a successful employee look like to you?
- How will my work performance be evaluated?”
Ask the interviewer what their next steps are, and when you might hear from them. And, don’t forget to ask if there’s anything else you can send them.
10. Follow up.
“The final step of any successful interview is often overlooked—sending a thank-you email to the interviewer(s) the same day of the interview. Keep the message professional, but short and sweet, by thanking them for their time, adding a couple of specific points of why you’re a great candidate for the position, and reiterating your enthusiasm towards the position and company,” said Andrews.
Only about 24% of hiring managers report receiving a thank-you note after an interview. Doing so can make you stand out from the crowd, and it shows that you are considerate, detail oriented, and organized.
Using Phone Interview Tips To Land Your Next Job
Make sure to remember that your personality and candor can make the difference between you and another candidate with similar references. By employing these phone interview tips, you can convey your abilities and passion for the job.
If you want to ensure you’re as prepared as you can be for a phone interview, consider meeting with a FlexJobs career coach. Members receive a discount on this service. Our career coaches can provide you with strategic tips for your particular situation and help you practice your interviewing skills.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
A version of this article was originally published on January 7, 2014.
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