7 tips for nailing a phone interview
A phone interview is commonly used as an initial step in the candidate screening process. As people become increasingly time poor, it is used as a quick way to determine whether you are enough of a right "fit" to progress to a face to face meeting. Given this, it is important to approach it in the best, most professional manner possible.
Without visual support such as your body language, facial expressions or attire, you are wholly reliant on content and tone, so understanding what to expect and how to approach a phone interview is valuable information.
Here are our top tips for ensuring your next phone interview secures you a face-to-face meeting.
1. Take the call in a noise free location
Set yourself up in a quiet spot away from any background noise that could take yours, or your interviewer’s attention away from the conversation. A barking dog, office or street noise is going to provide potential distractions to thought processes and result in an annoying experience for your interviewer.
Ensure that your chosen spot has reliable phone reception, access to all the information you need, a pen and paper, and the ability to stay as long as you need to. And, as crazy as it sounds, give your voice a short warm-up to get rid of any croakiness or coughs.
2. Do your research
Treat the phone interview as seriously as you would an in-person interview. Do your research into the company and the job ahead of time, and make it known that you’ve done your research (for example, “I read that the company is involved with the business conference being held in Sydney next month…” or "congratulations on your fantastic result with...").
3. Have all the relevant information at your fingertips
Have the job advertisement, your resume, a list of questions you want to ask, and any information about the company or the job that you want to have at hand, ready. It might also be useful to have some notes about your own experience, such as your strengths and weaknesses, to stop you stumbling over your answers.
During the conversation, stay focused and take notes for your own reference during the call or at a later interview, as this will form part of the resources to draw on when you progress to the next stage.
4. Relax and smile (yes…smile)
How you are feeling will translate to the other end of the phone via your tone of voice. Aim for a pleasant and relaxed but focused impression. Always smile if appropriate while talking on the phone as this relaxed tone will come across clearly and make the experience for you and the interview all the more natural and enjoyable.
5. Keep the communication flowing
The trickiest thing about a phone interview is the inability to see your interviewer and gauge their body language. Don’t be afraid to ask if they’d like more information on a certain point, or if you’ve given them what they’re looking for.
Answer questions with full sentences not simply a few words. Ask questions along the way, as too much silence can be off-putting for both parties and create awkwardness. Find some common points to create a conversation and level of camaraderie. In doing so you will be more memorable and intrigue the interviewer once they have hung up the phone.
6. Keep the end goal in mind: a face-to-face interview
As the phone interview appears to be drawing to a close, ask about the next stage in the process and when you might expect to hear back. Make it clear that everything sounds great from your end and you’re keen to progress.
7. Follow-up with a thank-you
Follow-up by sending a thank you email within 24 hours of your phone interview. Personalise the email with some notes about things you spoke about that really resonated with you to reinforce your desire to move forward. This is great professional etiquette and will help strengthen a positive impression.
Nailing a phone interview is the only way to progress to the next stage of meeting the employer or agency in person so keep these tips in mind and you will find yourself in that second interview in no time.