After carefully crafting your resume and submitting it to a potential employer, there’s another hurdle to clear before an in-person meeting with a recruiter — the phone interview.
While the phone interview doesn’t require traveling to an office or wearing a suit and tie, you shouldn’t take this essential step of the hiring process lightly. In addition to giving you a chance to discuss your background and interests, it’s an opportunity for you to learn more about the company and its culture.
To give you the best possible chance of nailing your next phone interview, we met with our recruiting team and put together a list of tips that every job seeker should know.
Before the Interview
1. Do Plenty of Research
One of the top mistakes that job candidates make is not doing enough research on the company and the role prior to their phone interview. Take the time to visit the company’s website and check out its social media channels. Not only will you get further insight into the company’s services and industry, but you’ll learn more about its office culture. Be sure to note any company news, blog posts or infographics that you find particularly interesting so that you can reference them during your conversation with the interviewer and show that you’ve done your homework.
2. Practice Your Responses
You only have a brief amount of time on the phone with the interviewer, so make it count. Know which skills and qualifications you’d like to highlight during your conversation and look up some sample interview questions so that you can practice how you’d respond. Be ready to discuss topics such as your professional background, reasons for leaving your previous roles, work accomplishments, any employment gaps on your resume and what you’re looking for in your next job.
3. Find a Quiet Location
Being able to hear the interviewer — and in turn, have them understand you — is paramount during a phone interview. Seek out a private, quiet location with good cell phone reception where you can stay for the duration of the call. A home office would work well, or the inside of your car (but not while you’re driving!). Make sure pets, children, the television and other possible disruptions are out of earshot until the interview is over. If you opt to take the call outside, avoid areas where nearby traffic can be easily heard. Don’t forget to take a few minutes before the call to settle in and look over your notes so that you’re ready to go at the scheduled interview time.
4. Keep Your Resume Handy
A major benefit of phone interviews is that you can have any documents that you may need to reference during the call directly in front of you. Have your resume close by so that you can seamlessly run through your experience and skill set without wasting time trying to remember details from your work history. Be sure to also have the job description on hand so that you can use it as a guide when explaining why you’re a fit for the role. In addition, write down some notes about any interesting topics that you came across during your research that you’d like to touch on during the conversation.
During the Interview
5. Put on a Smile
While you won’t be speaking with your interviewer face-to-face, remember to smile during your conversation — it comes across over the phone! Smiling alters the tone of your voice and exudes a positive energy that the recruiter can pick up on. It also makes you sound more excited, which will further emphasize your enthusiasm for the position.
6. Mind Your Phone Etiquette
Your phone interview is a chance to make a great first impression, so give it your full attention and be professional and respectful. Before the conversation gets underway, place your phone on silent so that you aren’t distracted by incoming calls and texts. In addition, don’t eat or chew gum during the call, and avoid activities such as driving or browsing the internet.
Candidate Horror Story: Poor phone etiquette can be a deal breaker for recruiters, and one particularly memorable experience for our team came when a candidate placed a drive-thru order while on the phone! Needless to say, the person didn’t land the job.
Always make your interview your top priority and put other tasks — like ordering food — on hold until the call is over.
7. Be Conversational
While much of your phone interview will be focused on your qualifications for the position, the interviewer will also be getting a sense of your communication style. In addition to meeting the requirements of the role, it’s important that you’re a cultural fit for the company. Speak with a friendly tone and don’t be afraid to show off some of your personality. Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions and make sure that you’re answering each one completely and concisely.
8. Take Detailed Notes
Speaking with the interviewer is a great opportunity to get a more in-depth understanding of the company and the role beyond the information that you found during your research. Jot down notes about topics that you discussed so you can reference them after the call is over — they’ll be a valuable resource when it’s time to follow up with the interviewer.
9. Ask Thoughtful Questions
Remember that your phone interview is a chance to gauge whether the company is a good fit for your interests and skills. Prepare a list of questions that cover such topics as the day-to-day requirements of the role, the training process, the challenges of the position and the interviewer’s experience at the company. Beyond helping you learn more about the opportunity, your questions will demonstrate that you took the time to adequately prepare for the conversation. Before ending the call, be sure to reiterate your interest in the position and inquire about the next steps in the hiring process.
After the Interview
10. Send a Thank-You Note as Soon as Possible
After the interview has wrapped up, follow up with a thank-you note to the interviewer as soon as possible. In addition to thanking the interviewer for their time, read through the notes that you took during the call and mention any specific information that reinforces why you’re well suited for the role. It’s ideal to send your thank-you message on the same day as the interview, and no later than the following day.
Put These Tips Into Practice
Acing your phone interview is a critical step for advancing to the next round of the hiring process, so take these tips into account and prepare for your next conversation with a recruiter with confidence. If you’re interested in working with us, check out our available opportunities and apply!