Phone interviews have become increasingly common simply because more jobs are receiving more and more applicants per listing. If you receive an invitation for a phone interview, you can pretty much expect it to be round one of a few rounds of interviews before the final candidate is chosen for the job. While you may have more competition at the round of a phone interview, we have a few tips that may help you stand out, even before your face-to-face with your prospective employer.
While it may sound silly and definitely won’t come naturally to some, remembering to smile, even on the phone, can make a difference in how you sound to your prospective employer. It’s true that the person on the other end of the line really can tell if the person they’re talking to is smiling or not. And while you should feel like you have to smile the entire conversation (try to keep it natural and authentic) you should do your best to put a positive energy in the conversation while conveying your own personality.
While you probably wouldn’t be standing in a face-to-face interview, this is where a phone interview can be to your advantage. In her Ted Talk, Amy Cuddy shares now a person’s body language (even if unable to be seen) can change the way we are perceived and even change our own body chemistry in how confident we feel. Take a few minutes before your interview to try some power poses and, hey, maybe even stick with them during the interview itself.
Grab all the documents you need
It might be your first instinct to bring a copy of your resume to an in-person interview, but don’t forget to have one ready for a phone interview as well! Having your resume in front of you will help you to remember key talking points when it comes to explaining why your experience makes you a great fit for the role.
Any correspondence between you and the company
If you’ve had any email correspondence between you and someone at the company, it might be a good idea to have that open in a tab on your computer or printed out for you to reference. It might come in handy when it comes to remembering someone’s name or details on a topic you discussed earlier.
Be ready to take notes
Even during a phone interview when it might feel more natural to take notes by typing on a computer, we want to encourage you to grab a pen and paper instead. While you might be extremely interested in what your interviewer is saying, if they hear typing on your end of the line, it may give the wrong impression that you’re distracted or not fully present during your interview.
Take it seriously
Even if you were told that your phone interview is simply a “preliminary” or “screening” interview, it should be taken just as seriously as any other interview. Confidence is great, but don’t go into your phone conversation feeling as though you can just wing it. Think of it this way: If your potential employer is calling you for a phone screening interview, there’re probably several others on his or her list to call, making the competition for the role greater at this stage in the game.
Practice your answers
This slightly overlaps with our previous tip to take your interview seriously. Remember, phone interviews are the time to try to “wing it.” If you like, feel free to even write down some notes or answers to common interview questions to have in front of you during your interview. Just be sure to not read your answers. If you feel like to need to look down and take a quick glance, go right ahead. If your interviewer can tell that you’re reading your answers off a sheet of paper, he or she might get the idea that you’re not too confident in yourself or the fact that you can do the job. Our advice? Sit down with a friend or family member and practice the interview questions that you think will come up during your phone conversation, especially the ones that may be more difficult to answer.
Watch the filler words
No “um”s, “like”s, or “evidently”s about it. We get it. Like any other interview, phone interviews put you on the spot and you may get caught with a question you weren’t completely prepared for. If that’s the case, just take a deep breath, think about your answer for a second, and respond clearly and concisely. It might help to repeat the question you were just asked but as a statement.
Interviewer: “What do you enjoy doing for fun?”
You: *Thinking* “‘What do I enjoy doing for fun…’ Well, I always love a good round of mini golf.”
Just make sure you don’t do this for every question or your interviewer may start to think there’s an echo in the room.
On the flip side, while you want your answers to be clear and concise, you don’t want to sound like an encyclopedia. Remember, you’re talking to a human. And while it’s important to be professional during your interview, a good interview will feel more like a conversation between two people who care about a company. All that to say: watch the filler words, sound professional, but don’t overdo it.
Keep water nearby
Remember all those times you wish you had a glass of water during an interview? Well, your dreams have come true, now you can! Just try not to slurp too loud.
Research the company
This is an important step to take when interviewing anywhere, for any company. Employers want to see that you want to work for their company. Be ready to answer the question, “So why do you want to work here?” Beyond that, make sure you stay up to date on current news on the company or check into what efforts they’ve been making within the department you’d like to work. This article from Forbes says, “If you are not able to state the company’s key figures, strategy and markets, the interview might be over after only three minutes. One of the nice things about a phone interview is that you can have your “cheat sheet” in front of you.” And while it’s great to be able to have the company’s website open on your laptop while you interview, it’s also a great idea to research a company beforehand just so you’re able to reference specifics about the company off the cuff if you need to.
Be sure to listen!
Whether you’re a talker or you just really want to make sure your interviewer understands how great an employee you’d be, make sure to leave some room for listening. Better yet, take it a step further and practice some of your active listening skills. Every so often, stick a subtle “Mmhmm” or a “Right, exactly” into the conversation. Compliment that with a, “Right, so you’re saying that” and then repeat the interviewer’s thoughts back to them in a new way. Of course, if and when you use these phrases, always be sure to make it a genuine part of your active listening. This post also shares how asking questions is a great way to reinforce your interest and investment in a position you’re interviewing for and make sure that you and your interviewer are on the same page.