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Phone Interview: Preparing for a Phone Interview

Consider these tips as you prepare for a phone interview.

A phone interview is a key step in the hiring process and your success in the phone screen is critical to move your candidacy forward for a position.  Remember, it is an interview – take it seriously.  If you don’t do well on the phone interview, you are out of contention for the position.

Telephone interview

  • Be prepared.  Treat the phone interview no differently than a traditional in-person interview.  Do your homework on the company and the interviewer.
    • Have your resume in front of you – the one the interview has in their hands.
    • Have the job description in front of you.
    • Have a list of questions ready to ask.
    • Have a list of items you want to be sure are covered in the call.  Review the list before the call ends.
    • Have paper and a pen ready for taking notes and a solid surface for writing.
    • Go to a quiet place and remove all distractions.  Shut off the TV and the music.  Shut off your cell phone.  Minimize open programs on your computer, but have it ready to go in case the interview wants you to go to something online.  Go to an area where there is no background noise – no door bells ringing, no dogs barking, no kids playing.  Close the door to the room you are in.
    • Conduct the call from home.  You have more control over the environment at home than in a public place.
    • Use a landline.  Unless you have highly reliable cell service and quality cell phone, conduct the phone interview from your landline.  If you do use a cell phone, make sure the battery is fully charged.  Have the charger ready in case you need it.  Turn off call waiting.
    • Be ready to accept the call 5 minutes before the scheduled start time.   Do not let the call go to voicemail.
    • Answer the phone professionally when it rings, “Hello, this is Jane Smith.”
    • Posture yourself as you would during an in-person interview.
    • During the conversation, do not smoke, eat, drink or chew gum.
    • Speak slowly and clearly and directly into the phone.
      • Don’t doodle or get otherwise distracted.
      • Don’t talk about money.  A phone interview is a pre-screening tool and it is too early in the process to discuss money.
      • Have your calendar in front of you in case the interviewer wants to schedule the next step.
      • Ask what the next step is in the interview process and clarify that you are interested in moving forward in the process.
      • Be prepared with a strong finish to the call summarizing why you are the best candidate for the position.
      • Thank the interviewer for their time speaking with you.
      • Be sure you have the interviewer’s email address and send a thank you note a few hours after the call.  If you don’t have their email address, ask for it during the call

Practice, practice, practice!  Phone interviews are very common and most employers use them.  If you can, conduct a mock phone interview with a family member or friend.  Work out the kinks and get feedback on how you may be perceived by the interviewer.

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