Five phone interview success tips

Woman being interviewed for a job over the phone

A crucial first step in the recruitment process, phone interviews, or phone screens, are used by hiring managers and recruiters to evaluate candidates in order to narrow down which applicants will be invited for in-person interviews. For remote positions or out-of-town candidates, a phone interview may also be the only option available.

Although they might seem a bit informal, acing this first interview is essential to create a great connection with your interviewer and make sure you proceed to the next stage of the interview process.

Follow our top five tips for making your next phone interview a success:

1. Remove distractions

Nothing derails your train of thought like co-workers listening in on your private calls or baristas yelling out orders in a coffee shop, so it’s extremely important to be in a distraction-free environment. Hopefully, you'll be able to schedule the call for a time when you are alone and can focus completely. If you aren’t able to schedule the call, try and put yourself in a quiet, private space where you are comfortable and unlikely to be interrupted (or overheard, if you are not at home). Taking notes during the conversation can also help you focus.

2. Prepare your story

Have a copy of your resume in front of you. Make sure you are able to explain your career history with exact dates and references without hesitation. Arm yourself with a few prepared scenarios that illustrate projects you’ve worked on, processes you’ve changed, initiatives you’ve led or problems you’ve solved.

While no two job interviews will be identical, there are certain interview questions that most job seekers are most likely to encounter. Write down some well thought out answers to some common interview questions so you can deliver your responses with confidence. It will be well worth the time to rehearse these examples ahead as you will use them in almost every interview you have on the phone or in person.

3. Have a positive and confident energy

Interviewers will be judging your communication skills by how you present yourself over the phone. You want to exude motivation and capability. They will be looking for your ability to connect interpersonally and judging how well you will work in a team. Demonstrate your can-do, get-things-done attitude. You definitely don’t want a potential new employer to sense any negativity or frustration you may feel toward your current employer or position. Focus on the opportunities and successes you have had. Be upbeat and don’t be afraid to highlight specific personal accomplishments.

4. Observe your body language

Even though you aren’t visible to the interviewer, body language and demeanour are easily detected over the phone. Smile while you are talking! It will help you sound more energised and positive and will be "heard" by the interviewer making for a positive impression.

5. Be interested and engaged

Preparing for your interview is key to be successful. Researching a company you’re applying to will take time, but it is essential if you want to perform well. Asking your interviewer questions about the role and organisation is crucial to show that you are motivated and interested. Frame these questions around the research you have already done on the role and the organization. Don’t let any nerves or awkwardness be mistaken for disinterest. Listen carefully to your interviewer and don't start speaking until they have finished. If you have something you want to say, write it down and mention it once it is your turn to talk. Remember to express your enthusiasm for moving forward and make sure to ask about the next step before the call ends. Follow up with a brief thank you email.

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