Companies often use phone interviews to screen candidates before meeting in person. Seize your chance to impress the interviewer so he or she can’t help but want to meet you in person. Consider the following do’s and don’ts.
How to have winning phone interviews
Don’t miss the details. What time is the interview? Is the interviewer calling you, or is it up to you to place the call? Does everyone have the right phone numbers? Who will be interviewing you? (Make sure to get the correct spelling of their names and also their contact information so you can easily follow up with thank you notes.) When the interview is remote, it’s very easy to muck up the key details, but if you are waiting for a call and the interviewer expected you to initiate the conversation, you’ve lost an opportunity. It’s wise to send an email to confirm all the specifics so everyone is on the same page.
Don’t take the call from a noisy place. There is nothing worse (for you and the interviewer) than trying to have a serious conversation when there is a lot of noise in the background. It does not matter if the noise is your daughter’s soccer game or the cappuccino machine at the local coffee shop; it’s up to you to find a quiet place to take the call. If you don’t, the interviewer will question your judgment, and no employer wants to hire someone who doesn’t make good decisions.
Don’t forget to tell your friends and family you’re on a business call. Even if you are in your home office with the door closed, if your roommate or family members don’t know you’re on an important call, expect to be interrupted.
Don’t schedule an interview when you have other responsibilities. Needless to say, it’s not a good idea to schedule an interview while you’re at work. Other bad times: when you’re in charge of children, driving or expecting a service person or visitor. Make sure you can give the interviewer your complete attention, or you may regret it later.
Don’t interrupt for a call that’s waiting. Just as you would never answer your phone during an in-person interview, don’t ever be tempted to ask the interviewer to wait a minute so you can pick up the call that’s waiting. Not only is it rude, but it’s possible you’ll get disconnected. When you are in an interview, give the interviewer all your focus and attention.
Do write some notes and refer to them. Be ready for the interview. Take advantage of the fact that the interviewer can’t see you and keep a few notes handy to help you remember to say all of your key points. Use bullet points, not complete paragraphs. (You don’t want to read them word-for-word.)
Do prepare as you would for an in-person meeting. Just because the meeting is over the phone doesn’t mean the employer isn’t serious about your candidacy. Return the favor and prepare and research as you would for an in-person interview. Learn all you can about the organization, their successes and their concerns. Be prepared to explain exactly why you are a good fit for the job.
Emote. In a phone interview, you need to be extra attentive about your tone and enthusiasm. If necessary, stand up when you’re on the call. Smile and gesture as you would in person to help make sure you verbally project your interest in the job.
Use a phone that won’t drop the call. You do not want to lose the interviewer in the midst of your conversation. Be sure to take the call on a reliable phone in a location that isn’t typically problematic.
Listen carefully and take notes as long as it doesn’t distract you. Just as it’s OK to refer to your prepared notes during your interview, you can take advantage of the phone interview setup to write down things during the interview so you’ll remember them later. It can be helpful to jot down a few things so you can write detailed thank you notes. Don’t feel compelled to transcribe every word, but some well-placed notes may help you later. You’ll be glad when you get the job.
A phone interview can be a great opportunity to shine, and without the pressure to shake hands well or dress in exactly the right thing, it can be a lot easier than an in-person meeting. Don’t blow your opportunity to make the most of this chance.