When you are job hunting, nothing brings greater job than hearing back from a recruiter or a hiring manager. The fact that they have reached out to you means that your resume has impressed them, and that they are at least interested in learning more about you to see if you are a good fit for the job.
In the past, impressing the recruiter with your resume would have been followed by an in person interview.
Today, however, there is a high chance that you will first be taken through a phone interview before being invited for an in person interview. Recruiters and hiring managers use phone interviews to conveniently screen for highly suitable candidates without investing the time and resources that in person interviews take.
On the face of it, phone interviews look quite simple, and most people do not tend to take them seriously.
What’s so serious about an interview that you can take while still dressed in your pajamas?
Despite not being face to face with the potential employer, you should take the phone interview with the same seriousness as any other interview, because your performance in the phone interview definitely has an impact on your chances of getting the job.
There are lots of candidates who have missed out on their dream jobs simply because they flopped during a phone interview.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, we have compiled for you a list of 22 phone interview tips to help you nail the call. Let’s dive in.
- 1 1. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALL THE DETAILS
- 2 2. RESEARCH THE COMPANY AND THE POSITION
- 3 3. PREPARE FOR COMMON PHONE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
- 4 4. RESEARCH AVERAGE SALARIES FOR THE POSITION
- 5 5. PREPARE YOUR NOTES
- 6 6. GATHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS
- 7 7. ENSURE YOU HAVE ALL THE TOOLS YOU NEED
- 8 8. DRESS TO IMPRESS
- 9 9. GO SOMEWHERE COMFORTABLE AND QUIET
- 10 10. AVOID DISTRACTIONS
- 11 11. PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED
- 12 12. CREATE A PROFESSIONAL VOICEMAIL MESSAGE
- 13 13. DO A TEST RUN
- 14 14. NAIL THE INTRODUCTION
- 15 15. BRING YOUR A-LEVEL SMALL TALK GAME
- 16 16. DON’T BE AFRAID OF PAUSES
- 17 17. ALLOW YOUR EXCITEMENT TO SHINE THROUGH
- 18 18. SHOWCASE YOUR LISTENING SKILLS
- 19 19. END ON A POSITIVE NOTE
- 20 20. NOTE DOWN IMPORTANT POINTS
- 21 21. SEND A THANK YOU NOTE
- 22 22. DON’T BE AFRAID TO FOLLOW UP
- 23 WRAPPING UP
1. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ALL THE DETAILS
You don’t want to miss the phone interview because you were not near your phone when the recruiter called, or because you didn’t know if it was the interviewer calling.
Therefore, the first thing you need to do is to confirm all the details concerning the phone interview.
Start by confirming what time the interviewer is going to call. In case the two of you are in different time zones, you should also confirm the time zone in which the call is scheduled.
Next, confirm the identity of the person you are going to be talking to and what their role is.
If you are going to be talking to multiple people, confirm the identities of all of them, their roles, and the order in which you’ll speak to them.
From there, confirm the number from which the interviewer will be calling. Some people do not like picking calls from unknown numbers, and you don’t want to ignore your interviewers call because you weren’t aware that they were the one calling.
You should also confirm to the interviewer what number they should call you on, in case you have more than one phone number. It’s also a good idea to ensure you have the company’s other contact information in case the call doesn’t go through for some reason.
In most cases, most of this information will be availed to you when the interviewer is scheduling the phone interview. If you don’t have this information, or if something is not clear, you should send an email to the interviewer to confirm everything before the day of the call.
Sometimes, something unexpected might come up, making it impossible for you to be available for the phone interview. If this happens, there is nothing wrong with reaching out to the interviewer, explaining your situation and asking to reschedule the call.
However, you should do this as soon as you find out that you won’t be able to take the call, not at the last minute.
2. RESEARCH THE COMPANY AND THE POSITION
Like I said earlier, most people do not give a phone interview the seriousness it deserves, and therefore, most of them decide to just wing it.
A few minutes into the call, they find themselves unable to answer even the most basic questions, and listen in horror as their poorly thought out answers wash their chances of getting the job down the drain.
If you don’t want this to happen to you, you need to prepare for the phone interview the same way you would prepare for an in person interview, and this means researching both the company and the position you are going to be interviewing for.
Start by first going through the job description and find out everything you can about the position. What does it entail? What tasks will you be responsible for? What is the impact of these tasks on the overall goals of the organization? What does a typical day in this role look like? What skills do you need to excel in the position?
From there, move on to researching the company itself. Go through the company’s website, scour its social media pages, and Google the company name to find out everything you can about the company. What are the company’s main products and services? What is their vision and mission? What is the history of the company? Who’s the company’s CEO? What projects is the company involved in at the moment? What is their corporate culture like?
Being well versed with the company and what it does shows the recruiter that you have a high level of interest in working for the company, and this will definitely increase your chances of getting the job.
3. PREPARE FOR COMMON PHONE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
One of the best ways to avoid being caught flatfooted in an interview is to anticipate the questions the interviewer is likely to ask you and prepare your answers for these questions. In this case, go through this list of common phone interview questions and prepare your answers.
You can even go a step further and practice giving out these answers on phone. Just ask one of your trusted friends to play the role of an interviewer and practice with them.
4. RESEARCH AVERAGE SALARIES FOR THE POSITION
One of the questions you are likely to be asked is your salary expectations for the position. While it is advisable to avoid salary negotiations until the later stages of the interviewing process, there is still a high chance that the interviewer might ask this question to see if you are within their budget.
If you give too high an answer, there is a high chance that they might think you are out of their budget and go with a much cheaper candidate.
Sometimes, giving an answer that is too high might even show that you are not really conversant with market rates for the position. On the other hand, giving an answer that is too low might make you seem inexperienced.
To be able to answer this question properly, you will need to research the average salaries for the position. At this stage, when answering this question, don’t give a specific figure.
Instead, give your answer in the form of a salary range. You can then discuss specific figures once you reach later stages of the interviewing process.
5. PREPARE YOUR NOTES
One of the greatest advantages of a phone interview compared to a conventional, in person interview is that with a phone interview, you can refer to your notes as you answer the interviewer’s questions.
After all, the interviewer cannot see you. Therefore, there is no point in trying to keep everything in your mind, only to end up forgetting something important.
Get a notebook and write down some of the most important information you might need, such as the findings from your company research, your answers to some of the common phone interview questions, the salary range for the position, and so on.
Of course, having your notes with you doesn’t mean that you should read off your answers to the interviewer like someone who is following a script. The purpose of your notes is just to make sure that you don’t forget something important.
6. GATHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS
In addition to preparing your notes, you should make sure you have all other necessary documents, such as a copy of your resume and cover letter.
This will come in handy in case the interviewer asks you something relating to one of these documents.
7. ENSURE YOU HAVE ALL THE TOOLS YOU NEED
You wouldn’t want your phone interview to get cut short because your phone battery died, or forget something important the interviewer said because you didn’t have a pen with you to note it down.
Therefore, before the scheduled time for the interview, ensure that you have all the necessary tools, including a pen and a notebook, a glass of water, headphones, and so on.
You should also make sure that your phone battery has enough charge to last for about an hour of conversation, and make sure that you have a strong signal. You can confirm that the signal is strong enough by calling someone a few minutes before the call and confirming that you can hold a conversation without the signal dropping.
8. DRESS TO IMPRESS
You might be surprised that I’m telling you to dress properly when the interviewer is going to be talking to you on phone and therefore won’t even see what you are wearing. What’s the point of this? Why not take the call in the comfort of your pajamas?
Well, here is the thing – what you wear has an impact on how you feel. If you dress like someone going to a conventional interview, you will feel more confident and more professional.
Even if the interviewer cannot see how you are dressed, they will definitely feel your confidence, and this can greatly improve your chances of advancing to the next round of interviews.
9. GO SOMEWHERE COMFORTABLE AND QUIET
Imagine taking a phone interview in a crowded café, or in your living room with the kids playing in the background. You would miss a lot of what the interviewer is saying, and would also come across as very unprofessional.
Therefore, you need to find a comfortable and quiet place where you are going to pick the call. If you are at home, lock yourself in one room where there are no disturbances.
If you are at work, you can either lock yourself in your office, book a conference room, or take the call inside your car.
10. AVOID DISTRACTIONS
This is closely related to the previous point. Sometimes, even if you lock yourself in a room at home, your family, who are unaware that you are on an important call, might come knocking on the door and interrupt you. If you are at work, your boss might need to see you or send you somewhere right before your call, making it impossible to get on the call.
To avoid this, you need to reduce the chances of being disturbed as much as you can. If you are at home, let your family know that you will be on an important call and should not be disturbed.
If you are at work, book the time on your calendar so that your boss and your colleagues will be aware that you are engaged and should not be disturbed.
11. PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Sometimes, despite your best efforts to prepare for the call, something unexpected might happen. Your boss might ask to see you right before your call. Your phone call might extend beyond the scheduled time, and another group might be waiting to use the conference room you had booked. Your phone battery might die, even though you had charged it earlier that morning.
While it is impossible to factor in every possible worst-case scenario, preparing for some unexpected events will help you deal with them better. For instance, even if you had charged your phone, have a charge handy before the call.
To avoid another group coming into the conference room before you are done with your call, book it for an extra half hour before and after the scheduled time for your call. When you prepare for such unexpected situations, you are less likely to be caught off-guard.
12. CREATE A PROFESSIONAL VOICEMAIL MESSAGE
When you have a phone interview scheduled, the most important thing you can do is to make sure you are available for the call.
Unfortunately, things do not always go according to our plans, and despite your best preparations, something might happen, making it impossible for you to pick the interviewer’s calls.
If this happens, you want to give the interviewer a positive and professional impression, despite not picking their call, and this means having a professional voicemail message.
The message doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Simply give your name, apologize for missing their call, ask them to leave a message, and promise to call them back as soon as you can.
13. DO A TEST RUN
Even after you have prepared for everything, it is advisable to do a test run to make sure everything is okay before the call.
About an hour or so before the phone interview, call someone – a friend or a family member – and have a few minutes phone conversation with them to make sure that everything is okay – that both parties can hear each other properly, that the signal is right, that your headphones are working properly, and so on.
14. NAIL THE INTRODUCTION
There is something about phone interviews that makes them seem less formal than in person interviews. As a result, it can be tempting to begin the call like you are catching up with an old friend. Don’t give in to this temptation.
You want to convey professionalism right from the start. Once you pick the phone, start by introducing yourself and appreciate the interviewer for the call. You could say, “Hello Margaret (interviewer’s name). This is Martin (your name) speaking. Thanks for your call, it’s great to speak with you.”
15. BRING YOUR A-LEVEL SMALL TALK GAME
Just because the other person is calling to interview you doesn’t mean that you should jump into business right away. Instead, put the interviewer at ease by engaging them in some small talk.
This helps you create a positive vibe before you get to business. Remember, interviews are not just about your qualifications, but also about your personality.
Engaging in some small talk shows that you are a warm person who is easy to get along with. However, don’t draw the small talk too much. A minute or two of small talk is enough, and then you can guide the conversation towards business.
16. DON’T BE AFRAID OF PAUSES
When in a conversation with someone you are not familiar with, pauses can feel a bit awkward. In a face to face conversation, the fact that you can see what the other person is doing during the pause – referring to their notes, contemplating some information, and so on – makes the pauses a bit easier.
During a phone interview, you cannot see what the other person is doing during a pause, and this can make the pauses feel too long and awkward. To avoid this feeling, you might find yourself rushing through sentences, with almost no time to breath.
Unfortunately, this will make you sound nervous and tense, which is not how you want the interviewer to perceive you. Therefore, do not be afraid of poses. When the interviewer asks a question, wait a second or so before you give your answer. This will make you sound more confident.
17. ALLOW YOUR EXCITEMENT TO SHINE THROUGH
With a phone interview, the only asset you have to create a positive impression is your voice. Regardless of how excited you are about the job, if your voice doesn’t convey your excitement, the interviewer has no way of knowing about your excitement for the job.
Therefore, you need to ensure that your excitement is shining through during the call.
A good way to do this is to smile while talking and use gestures like you would during a face to face conversation.
Doing this injects the right emotions into your voice and allows you to convey your excitement, even though the interviewer cannot see you.
18. SHOWCASE YOUR LISTENING SKILLS
Listening skills are highly valued by most employers, and the phone interview gives you the perfect opportunity to showcase your exemplary listening skills.
To do this, pay attention to what the interviewer is saying, and try as much as possible to get what they are saying without having to ask them to repeat their questions and statements again and again.
Even if the interviewer cannot see you, avoid the temptation to want to do something else during the interview, since this will only get you distracted and increase your chances of missing something important.
To show that you are paying attention, periodically repeat any relevant points made by the interviewer, or use fillers like “yes,” “sure,” “right,” and “okay” to show that you are indeed listening.
Another way to show that you are listening to the interviewer is to ask relevant questions. In addition to showing that you are paying attention, asking you questions allows you to seek clarification on anything that might not have been made clear.
19. END ON A POSITIVE NOTE
Once the interview is done, you should end the call on a positive tone if you really want to increase your chances of making it to the next round.
Thank the interviewer for the call, let them know you enjoyed the interview, reiterate your interest in the position and your confidence in excelling in the position, and then ask for the next steps after the phone interview.
20. NOTE DOWN IMPORTANT POINTS
Once the call is over, take a few minutes to note down any important points from the interview that you want to remember and that will be useful in the next round of interviews.
These include things such as how to get in touch with the recruiter, the next steps to take, some information about the company that you might want to check out, and so on.
21. SEND A THANK YOU NOTE
Once the call is done, wait a couple of hours (the same day or the next day if you interviewed in the afternoon) and send a thank you note to the interviewer.
In your note, once again thank them for taking the time to interview you, mention something from the conversation that stood out to you, reiterate your interest in the position and your ability to excel in the position, and your desire to proceed to the next stage.
The thank you note needn’t be long. Just a paragraph or two is enough.
22. DON’T BE AFRAID TO FOLLOW UP
Hopefully, the recruiter or hiring manager will get back to you within a few days and advice on the way forward. If this doesn’t happen, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and follow up.
Ideally, you should send a follow up email after a week, and another after two more weeks (three weeks after the phone interview).
In most cases, they will respond to your follow up email and let you know where they are in the process.
If you don’t hear from them after sending the two follow up emails, leave it to them and start focusing on other opportunities.
Just like conventional, in person interviews, phone interviews are very important, and have a huge impact on your chances of getting your dream job. After all, if you do not make it through the phone interview, you have no other chance of impressing the hiring manager and getting the job.
Fortunately, we have provided you with a compilation of 22 tips that will help you nail the phone interview. Keep them in mind during your next phone interview and you will definitely increase your chances of making it to the next level of the interviewing process.