You’ve written a thought-out resume and cover letter that catches the eye of a potential employer—meaning you’ve made it past the first step in the hiring process! While that’s certainly reason to celebrate, a good resume is no longer enough to get you in the door. These days, it’s most likely you’ll need to participate in a phone interview, conducted by an HR manager, recruiter, or hiring manager, to determine if you’ll be in the running for the position.
There are many interview formats, all of which require different types of skills to stand out. Mastering the phone interview takes some practice, but with the right mindset you’ll be ready to nail the interview and get invited back for an in-person meeting.
Create a Comfortable Space
In a face-to-face interview setting, you need to be able to succeed in whatever environment the company offers you. With a phone interview, you set your own scene that makes you as comfortable as possible. This doesn’t mean you should take the call from bed in your pajamas, in fact, most people feel more confident if they dress up a bit. Whatever you choose to wear, be sure you are limiting the background noise, have ample service or phone battery, and ready to go at least 30 minutes before your call.
Prepare--But Use a Cheat Sheet
You miss out on the benefit of face-to-face rapport, but the best thing about a phone interview is you can use your notes. Pull together a cheat sheet ahead of time to help sell yourself, and your knowledge of the company. The more preperation you do, the more comfortable you’ll feel in the interview. Here are some ideas to include on your cheat sheet:
• Snippet of the job description for reference
• Your 30-60 second elevator pitch
• Research on the company (points you want to bring up, questions you have)
• Background on the interviewer
• Project’s you’ve led and examples of your work with success rates
• Questions you want to ask the interviewer
Speak Clearly, And with Enthusiasm
On a phone interview, you can’t win the interviewer over with facial expression, you must convey enthusiasm and professionalism using your voice. Make sure you have an upbeat tone, which can be accomplished by simply smiling through the phone. Some people need to stand up and pace, or use their hands while talking Try practicing with a friend to figure out the best way for you to sound positive over the phone.
Be an Active Listener
Ability to listen and respond well is one of the most underrated interview skills, bit is vitally important on a phone interview. Responding appropriately will help pace the conversation, and actively listening equips you with information you’ll use later. Again, the benefit here is that they can’t see you. Take as many notes as you can, especially if you’re getting specifics about the job or company. If you reference these later you’re showing how observant and engaged you are in the conversation.
End with Clear Next Steps
The worst thing that can happen after a phone interview is feeling left in the dark—not knowing how things went or what to expect. Before you get off the phone be sure that you take a moment to ask the interviewer about their hiring process, and what kind of timeframe to expect to hear back.
Phone interviews can feel awkward for some, but a little preparation can help you stand out from the others.