Job interviews come in a variety of forms. In-person interviews, virtual interviews, and phone interviews are all common, but each presents a unique set of challenges to prepare for. Knowing how to alter your interview prep for different types of interviews can help you stand out among other potential applicants.
So, instead of panicking the second the phone rings, take a look at the following tips ahead of time so that you’re ready to ace your next phone interview.
1. Have a quiet background
As difficult as this may be if you have kids or a partner working at home, taking the call for your phone interview in a quiet space is imperative. This will not only help you focus but ensure that you can hear your interviewer and they can hear you.
Ahead of your interview, choose a quiet room away from other members of your home and pets if you’re at home. Turn off the television and mute your computer so notifications don’t ding in the background. It’s best to avoid public spaces if you can since you have no way to control the volume level of the people around you in public.
2. Tidy up your work area
Where you take the call for your phone interview matters in more ways than one. It’s a good idea to ensure that you have a clutter-free workspace set up so that you can focus completely on the task at hand. Even though your interviewer can’t see your workspace, having papers scattered or things out of place could potentially be distracting to you during your call.
3. Still dress for success
There is much to be said for getting into the proper business mindset when it’s time to engage in any type of interview, even a phone interview. Of course, the interviewer won’t be able to see you through the phone, but dressing for the job you want is always an interview do.
4. Confirm the call time
One easy way to make sure that you’re well-prepared ahead of a phone interview is to confirm the time that the call will take place. Confirm the scheduled date and time of the call ahead of time, write it down, and add it to your calendar. Ensure promptness to make a good impression on your potential employer.
5. Ask who will make the call
In some instances, companies will ask you to dial in at the scheduled time of your phone interview. Other times, a company representative will be the one to contact you directly. Ahead of your phone interview, make sure you are clear on who will call whom.
6. Know who you will speak to
Depending on where you are in the hiring process and what the company’s structure is like, you may be interviewing with a representative from human resources, a supervisor, or even a recruiter. Ask ahead of time for the interviewer’s name and title. Then, take time to research the individual on professional networking sites and the company’s website.
Knowing who you will speak to can help you better prepare for the type of questions you’ll be asked. For example, a recruiter will likely ask more about your general work experience, where a supervisor may want to know more about your communication style and specific skills.
7. Charge your phone
This sounds simple, but it would be a shame to drop the call on your phone interview just because your cell phone dies. Alternatively, you can take advantage of using a landline to avoid this issue if you have one available.
8. Consider using headphones
If you’ll be using your cell phone for your phone interview, it could be a good idea to consider using headphones during your call. This will help keep your hands free to flip through your resume and notes if needed.
If you don’t regularly use headphones for phone calls already, doing a practice call with a friend before your phone interview will help you adjust to this way of speaking on the phone and work out any potential issues ahead of time.
9. Print out your resume
Just like you would for an in-person interview, printing your resume out and having it in front of you during a phone interview is key. Doing this will help ensure that you can easily refer to your resume should your interviewer ask questions about your background.
Although having a digital copy of your resume pulled up on your computer could also be helpful, having to toggle back and forth between tabs could be distracting, you could run into technical issues, and typing or notifications could cause unnecessary background noise.
10. Practice your answers to common phone interview questions
No matter what type of interview you are gearing up for, knowing how to answer common interview questions is key.
Have in mind how you will address questions about your background as well as answers for things like why you left your previous role and what skills you possess that make you a good fit for the position. This list of common interview questions and how to answer them can help you prepare.
11. Review the company’s website
Before your phone interview, take the time to carefully review any information you can find about the company so that you are well-equipped to speak about it throughout the interview. Additionally, it is a good idea to have a list featuring the main points of both the company and the job description on hand during your call to refer to quickly.
12. Know the job posting inside and out
Just like going into an in-person or virtual interview, you’ll want to make sure that you have read the job description thoroughly prior to your phone interview. Showing that you understand what will be expected of you if you’re offered the position will help impress your interviewer, even through a phone call.
13. Prepare a list of questions
As with any type of job interview, you should prepare a list of questions to ask your interviewer ahead of your phone interview. Make sure you have your list handy when you begin the call so that you can easily refer to it during the conversation when it’s time to ask your questions about this opportunity.
14. Practice small talk
When you first get on the phone with someone, the compulsory “How are you?” questions are inevitable, even in a phone interview. It’s a good idea to practice how you will greet your phone interviewer, as well as what responses you have for their potential greetings.
For example, your phone interviewer might inquire about the weather in your area. Answering not only with what the climate is where you are, but also inquiring about how things are where they are is polite and shows that you know how to engage in conversation. This type of back and forth can help establish connections and let you stand out among potential hires instead of just mumbling a halfhearted, “Good.”
15. Check your voicemail
In the unfortunate case that you miss the call for your phone interview, make sure that your voicemail is professional in nature. One example is, “Hello, you have reached NAME. I’m sorry to have missed your call. Please leave your name, phone number, and a detailed message, and I will return your call as soon as possible.”
16. Listen actively
As easy as it is to get distracted while someone is speaking to you on the phone, it is imperative that you pay extra attention to focusing on actively listening to your interviewer during your call. Rephrasing their question within the first sentence of your reply is one proven strategy to show that you’re listening closely to what the interviewer is asking.
17. Speak clearly
Sometimes phone connections can hamper the sound quality of the people speaking. Be sure to speak clearly, succinctly, and at a volume that can be easily heard throughout the call. Enunciate your words, and don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer upon getting on the call if they can hear you well just in case you need to make any adjustments.
Despite your interviewer not being able to see your face, smiling while you speak can help convey enthusiasm through your voice inflection. This can help your interviewer understand that you’re excited about the potential of the position. The tactic can also help you stay relaxed throughout the interview.
19. Sit up straight
Keeping proper posture by sitting up straight throughout your phone interview can help you maintain confidence during the call. Just like smiling, even though your interviewer won’t be able to see your posture, it can help you stay professional and focused throughout the call.
20. Follow up
Following up with a brief thank you after an interview is always a good idea. Within 24 hours after your phone interview, send an email to your interviewer thanking them for taking the time to speak with you.
Include a few details from your call, and let them know that you look forward to hearing back from them with the next steps. This will not only keep the door of communication open between you and your interview, but can help you stand out among a sea of potential applicants.