Phone Interview Tips

03 Oct 2018

Phone Interview Tips That Will Get You to the Next Round

In the modern employment marketplace most interview processes start with a phone interview.  Whether with HR, a recruiter or an assistant, this is your first opportunity to interact with a potential employer.  You should take it very seriously.  These phone interview tips will increase your chance of getting the job.

All too often candidates discount the importance of a phone interview.  As a result they never get the chance to interview in-person.

Employers receive an average of 250 applicants for each job that they post.  Sifting through all of those resumes is incredibly time consuming.  Understandably employers are constantly looking for ways to reduce the pool of candidates to 4 or 5 . It is good sense to pay attention to these phone interview tips.  Your goal in a phone interview is to progress to an in-person interview.  Don’t give the interviewer any reason to eliminate you.

Make No Mistakes About It……they are evaluating you

Oftentimes your first contact within a company is with a recruiter or HR professional.  These professionals tend to be anxious to share the benefits of working for the organization.  While they are promoting the position they are also selecting the best applicants.

If you are not careful they will lull you into a false sense of the nature of the conversation.  With your guard down a you will likely say something that could disqualify you from further consideration.  My first of these phone interview tips is to assume you are being evaluated and keep your best front at all times.

Location, Location Location 

Most of these phone interview tips require advance preparation.  Before the phone interview begins you should have scouted out a quiet and private meeting place. Coffee shops, driving in vehicles, or walking around outside are terrible locations because the background noise is unpredictable and disruptive.

If you are at home, can you hear the dog? Is your doorbell going to chime?  If using a mobile phone, make certain you have excellent reception and a fully charged battery.

Turn off notifications and call waiting so that incoming calls or texts won’t disrupt your concentration. If an interviewer gets frustrated with the interview for any reason it reflects poorly on you and may kill your chance to move forward.

Do Your Homework

A candidate should prepare for a phone interview similarly to the way they would if the interview was in-person. Thoroughly review the employer’s website and social media pages paying particularly close attention to the ‘about us’ section.

If the company is publicly traded, know the stock trends. Google the organization for recent events and news.   If possible print the job description and read it 4 or 5 times while highlighting the core responsibilities and company values. You will need this background information to connect with your interviewer and to explain why you are a great candidate.

Be Prepared with Housekeeping Details

The employer’s goal in a phone interview is to reduce the list of candidates. They will want to make sure that you fit the role from the most basic points.  If you don’t meet the basic requirements there is no point in digging in further.  Make it easy for the interviewer to get the facts they are seeking by having the following information readily available:

  • Compensation Expectations.  The recruiter wants to know that your expectations mirror those of the company.  You will need to get clear about compensation requirements before the meeting.  Never be the first to discuss compensation but be prepared to respond when asked.  If the salary is not public information it is advisable to ask the recruiter for a salary range.  It is acceptable to let the recruiter know if the range provided is in-line with your expectations without naming a specific number.
  • Availability.  If this conversation goes well they will probably invite you to interview in-person.  Have your calendar open and ready to schedule the next step to the process.
  • Start Date.  A potential employer will want to know when could you start working.  If you are currently employed it is advisable to offer a 2-week notice. Your interviewer will respect that you would not leave your company without notice.
  • Why you left your last employers.  Employers want to hire people who will remain with their company for a very long time. They also want to hire employees that get along with others. Explain why you left each of your recent jobs while always avoiding a negative tone.
Dress for the Part

How a person looks and feels about themself makes a big impact to how they present. If you want to sound sharp, look sharp. One of my favorite phone interview tips is to dress and groom the same way you would if you were interviewing in-person.  Your interviewer may not be able to see you but your confidence will come through the phone more than you realize. So sit up straight and smile even though no one can see it.

Ask Smart Questions

When the interviewer ask if you have any other questions you have a golden opportunity.  Use this chance to gain intel that will make you a better candidate in later interviews.  You will appear unengaged if you have no questions.

My favorite questions to ask the interviewer are about what makes their best employees good at their jobs.  This is also a chance to ask how many candidates they are considering.  For more information check out this article that lists the best questions to ask a potential employer.

Be a Closer

You are not going to receive an offer after a phone interview but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.  Remember that the goal is to move forward to interview in-person.

Don’t let the conversation end without asking for the next step.

Understanding the employer’s timeline.

Let the interviewer know your level of interest.

If the job was worth applying for you owe it to yourself to take the initial phone interview seriously.  Follow these 7 phone interview tips so you stand out amongst the pack of candidates.

Tell me about the best phone interview tips you’ve picked up. Feel free to contact me with any employment questions.

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JT Driscoll
JT Driscoll has helped more than 3,000 professionals advance their careers. Recognized as one of the most accomplished employment experts in the United States, he built 3 successful recruiting firms before launching Hire Guide. Connect with JT on LinkedIn or Facebook to receive practical employment tips. Feel free to send him a message about your career.