10 Phone Interview Tips You Need to Know

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As you begin your quest for that next great job, you need to be ready for anything, including a phone interview—which could be scheduled or could come out of the blue. Phone interviews are a step HR departments will sometimes take to narrow down candidates. With some preparation, you can also consider the phone interview a great opportunity to set yourself apart from other candidates.

Additionally, practicing with a mock interview, through which you can get objective feedback on your answers from a professional job coach, can definitely increase your chances of moving on to the next round.

Take these phone interview tips to heart as you prepare for what could be the first step toward landing your dream job!

1. Maintain a professional level

As you’re in your job search mode, always answer your phone professionally in a place where there isn’t a lot of noise. In other words, let your phone go to voicemail if you’re at an AC/DC concert. Your voicemail greeting should be professional, as well. When you’ve scheduled a phone interview, find a quiet room where you won’t be interrupted. Use a headset so you have your hands free to take notes. And dress for the part, because when you look sloppy, you could easily let your professionalism slip.

2. Do your research before the interview

Get to know the company with some basic research. Check out their website and any social media sites and blogs. Google news references and stories about the company that will provide some insight. If you can slip in a reference to something you’ve learned, especially something other candidates may not know, you could make a positive impression. Keep these notes, along with the job description, in front of you during the phone interview.

3. Do some rehearsals

For some, talking on the phone is as natural as breathing. If this is not in your comfort zone, it’s especially important that you practice. Work with a friend, family member, or trusted co-worker to see how you come across on the phone. Record your rehearsals and pick out areas where you can strengthen your replies and your vocals, and try to eliminate fillers such as “uh” and “like.” Need more help? We offer quality professional interview feedback that can give you an edge over other candidates.

4. Be prepared to answer some common questions

You’ll likely be asked about your present job, why you’re applying for this new position, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your work style. The interviewer will probably also want you to talk a little about yourself. A valuable phone interview tip is to prepare those responses beforehand. Make sure your responses are honest and have as much to do with the job description as possible. When asked one of those questions, don’t read your answer verbatim.

5. Raise the energy level and keep it going all the way

Have you ever listened to a speaker who started out loud and clear but fizzled out and became hard to hear after five minutes or so? Don’t be that person in a phone interview—or any job interview. Consider using a visual reminder to stay focused and keep the energy going throughout the conversation.

6. Do these things during the phone interview

Smile when you’re talking, as it will show in your voice. Keep some water close just in case you experience a little dry mouth, and don’t be afraid to ask for a brief pause to take a quick (quiet) sip. Refer to the interviewer using her title and surname unless she indicates otherwise. Remain focused and avoid distractions. Listen to the questions carefully. It’s okay to ask the interviewer to repeat or clarify a question once or twice. Keep your responses brief, as phone interviews are often on a strict time limit.

7. Don’t do these things during the phone interview

Do not under any circumstances eat, chew, smoke, lie down, interrupt the interviewer, or try to catch the last few minutes of The Young and the Restless during a phone interview. In terms of topics of conversation, do not ask about salary, benefits, vacation time, or anything that doesn’t directly relate to the position itself.

8. End on a high note

If you’ve maintained that energy level, you shouldn’t have any trouble with this. At the end, your interviewer is likely to ask if you have any questions for her. Do not say, “No, I think we’ve covered just about everything.” Always have questions ready to ask that pertain to the position or the company. It could be something as simple as, “How long have you been with the company?”

9. Express appreciation

Before saying goodbye, express your thanks to the interviewer for the time spent with you. Make sure you ask what the next step in the process will be and when you might hear more. This shows you’re still interested in the position. Of course, there’s always the chance you won’t be interested in pursuing this position further, but still extend your appreciation for the time.

10. Follow up with a note of thanks

As with any job interview, always follow up with a thank-you note. If you don’t have your interviewer’s email address, make sure you ask for it during the interview. Send an email expressing your appreciation shortly after, preferably the same day. Keep it brief, but reinforce your interest in the position and add any pertinent information that you feel didn’t get covered in the interview.

Phone interviews can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re used to interviewing in person. Take some time to review these tips and do some self-assessment on what you can offer an employer, and be sure to check out our mock interview services, which provide constructive feedback and help you move on to the next level in the hiring process.

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