Don’t let anyone tell you that a phone interview is basically the same thing as an in-person interview. They are so, so different and it’s important to change up your preparation to fit the situation. We put together our top tips for acing your phone interview, no matter the industry, level or location.
- Over prepare (and then prepare some more)
One of my favorite things about phone interviews is that they offer you a unique opportunity that you don’t have during an in-person interview – anonymity. It’s tough to go into an in-person interview with your laptop with the company’s website and social media pulled up, your detailed notes on popular interview questions, and a full set of background information on yourself from your transcripts to your project portfolio. However, during a phone interview, you’re able to have all of this in front of you (and more!)
I always liked to research some typical phone interview questions (or even company-specific industry questions on Glassdoor) and write my answers out. That way, when those questions came up, I could reference my notes and give a well-thought out, concise answer.
- Run a test
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, worse than not being able to hear someone during a phone call, let alone a phone interview. It’s awkward, unprofessional, and could ultimately ruin your chances of being hired (even if you’re a perfect fit!) There are many factors that affect how you sound over the phone including your environment, your phone, and elements that are out of your control.
I recommend running a test with a friend or family member prior to your phone interview. Set yourself up for the phone interview exactly how you plan to during the actual event, including your outfit, notes, computer, and exact location. Try every possible scenario including on speakerphone/off speakerphone, moving around, rustling papers, etc. Have your partner tell you if anything sounds off or is particularly distracting.
- Double-check the details
I can’t tell you how many times there have been phone interview mix-ups concerning time zones, this week vs. next week, and who’s calling who. Prior to your phone interview, make sure you confirm the exact day and time and how you and the interviewer will connect. It can be very difficult to come back from a missed interview, even if it was over a simple mistake.
- Get comfortable with silent moments
Phone interviews are often with a member of the HR team or someone else who isn’t the actual Hiring Manager. This means that whoever is conducting your phone interview will probably be taking copious notes to relay to the powers at be, resulting in some quiet moments while they write or type. DO NOT feel that you need to feel these empty spaces with additional explanations. Instead, take the opportunity to prepare for the next question.
- Don’t forget to ask about next steps
A phone interview is usually one of the first steps in the interview process. It’s completely appropriate and important to ask about next steps so you aren’t left wondering what you should do next!