How to prepare for a phone interview
Your resume and application made an impact and you landed an interview - but alas it’s on the phone. It may not be the most ideal way to make a solid first impression, but that doesn’t mean you can’t.
It is common for larger companies to start the interview process on the phone, especially if the job is located in a different city. More often than not, phone interviews are rather short and a first step in the hiring process. The phone interview won’t get you the job just yet, but a successful chat will get you into the next round. Besides ensuring you have enough battery on your phone, there are a few other things you can prepare for.
Do your research
Similarly to a face-to-face interview, proper research is key. Make sure you review the job description, understand the company’s business, and have your set of questions ready.
The benefit of a phone interview is that you have your research notes on hand -- and no one needs to know! Use it to your advantage and prepare answers to all the basic questions. You shouldn’t read from a script, but it’s sensible to have a readymade structure and outline.
Talking on the phone with a recruiter or hiring manager, it’s hard to judge the situation for both sides. They might not be able to assess your body language (unless you are having a video call), but they can hear your tone of voice. Make sure you smile when talking on the phone - it will show in your voice.
Listen carefully to the interviewer and let him/her take the lead. Don’t try to dominate or talk over the other person. Remember that phone interviews tend to be short - try to be concise in your answers. It’s for that reason that your research before the interview is so crucial.
Avoid uncomfortable questions
Although it’s important to ask a few questions, phone interviews are usually rather short. Keep it to a minimum and don’t discuss salary related questions during the first phone interview (unless the hiring manager specifically asks you about it). It’s one of the common mistakes you really should avoid.
Neither should you talk badly about your current or previous employer -- it’s important to keeps things positive.
Get your setup ready
Find a quiet place where you won’t be disrupted. A public cafe might be a good place to work, but isn’t really suitable for a phone interview, as you can’t control your surrounding. If you’re going to nail the interview, you need to concentrate.
Sit at a desk that has ample space for your CV, the printed job description, a notebook, and your laptop. Use your earphones for the interview, so you can take notes or do quick searches online if needed.
As with a face-to-face interview, don’t forget to follow up in an email after the interview. All the basic steps of how to ace an interview apply for phone interviews too.