Congrats! After submitting your cover letter and resume to dozens of employers, you finally get a call for the 1st round of the process: a phone interview. Since it is one of the first opportunities for an interviewer to put a voice to a resume, the more prepared you are, the better your chances are for getting a callback or being invited for an in-person interview. Here is a list of some best practices to follow as you begin the phone interviewing process.
Since the purpose of a phone interview is for the employer to see if they want to bring the candidate in for a face-to-face interview, this is the stage where typical questions such as, “Why don’t you tell me about yourself?” “Could you summarize your resume?” and “What are some of your skills/interests?” are asked. Being able to answer these questions in a short and concise manner is the best way to establish yourself as prepared and an effective communicator very early in the interview process. To stay ahead of your interviewer, try putting together a “cheat sheet” to look at with answers to more common questions you will receive or some quick stats about yourself. Phone interviews generally last from 20 – 30 minutes, so the more concise your responses are, the more confident and knowledgeable you will appear when discussing your skills and accomplishments.
Setting is Key
A best practice for phone interviews is to make sure you’re in an environment free of distractions (e.g., car horns, room echoes, other people, etc.), so try and find a space where your voice has the ability to project but not overwhelm your listener. You want to make sure you sound confident and comfortable. For instance, if walking around makes you comfortable, put yourself in a place where you are able to move freely and sound as you normally would. On the other hand, if you’d rather sit in one position, having good posture will make your voice sound stronger. In addition, smiling as well as putting energy behind your words are two things interviewers can easily pick up on. This is important to do because the hiring manager can’t see you and observe your body language, so this is one way they can gauge your interest in the position. This will also help them get a glimpse of your personality, and encourage them to call you in for an in-person interview.
The Follow Up
After every phone interview you complete, it is a best practice to follow up with a “Thank You” note (usually in the form of an email) to the person/people who interviewed you. Usually this letter is intended to thank the interviewer(s) for taking time out of their schedules to talk with you, and let them know you are looking forward to meeting them to discuss the position in person. When writing the note, make sure it is free of spelling errors, directed towards the right person and company, and expresses your interest in the role. If this is executed correctly and sent in a timely manner, the note will keep you fresh in the employer’s mind, which may spur them to move you forward in the interviewing process.