Job Seeker Resources
Master the phone interview
These 11 tips will help you create the best impression possible:
- Get the environment right: Try to avoid conducting the interview in a busy, noisy environment such as your favorite coffee shop, and don’t conduct an interview in your car. Choosing a private office where you won’t be disturbed or interrupted by questions from colleagues is the best course of action. Allow adequate time for the call too, and don’t assume it will be a quick ten minutes.
- Use a landline: Poor mobile phone reception is the single biggest reason why many phone interviews fail to take place. While they are technological wonders, our mobile phones can be surprisingly unreliable at the worst possible time when it comes to their most fundamental function: making and receiving calls.
- Be prepared: Have your notes and CV/Resume in front of you during your interview. Be prepared to summarize what’s in your notes and stay focused on key points so your answers don’t sound scripted.
- Practice the interview in advance: Sit in front of a computer that displays the LinkedIn image of the person who will interview you. Envision that they’re there, and practice giving genuine answers. This will provide a more comfortable and natural experience than practicing in front of a mirror.
- Remember that phones can have a delay: Being enthusiastic is great, but wait a beat to speak if your interview is taking place on a conference call. You want to be sure you don’t talk over the interviewer.
- Ask the interviewer to rephrase or repeat the question: If you are at all uncertain about the question, it’s perfectly appropriate to ask the interviewer to rephrase or repeat it. Try to avoid doing this repeatedly. It’s always better to get your answer right the first time.
- Vary your pace, pitch, and tone: It’s not easy to convey energy and empathy over the phone, so it’s important that you vary your speech. Leave healthy pauses after every two or three sentences to give the interviewer an opportunity to drill further down or confirm they’ve heard enough.
- Practice a CV/resume run through: The structure of the phone interview will often vary, but a standard format will be CV/Resume based. If you’re asked to run through your career history, you should qualify how long this should last. Do they want a 30-second elevator pitch or a detailed 30-minute conversation? Either way, plan ahead.
- Build rapport early on: As with all interviews, first impressions count. Good interviewers will try to break the ice early on. Reciprocate with a warm demeanor.
- Ask questions: Like most interviews, you will get a chance to ask questions. If an interviewer has a solid day of phone interviews, you will probably stand out more by asking insightful questions about the business/role and more importantly about them.
- Dress for success: Dress professionally for the interview and you’ll come across as a professional. Take a phone interview as seriously as a face-to face-interview and you have a better chance at not being weeded out of being asked for a second interview.