Tips to have the most successful phone interview possible
Don’t phone it in. Treat the phone interview with the same seriousness and preparation that you would give to an in-person interview. Remember, this could be the first step to the best job you’ve ever had!
Find a good location. Make sure you are in an area with good cell phone reception (or, ideally, use a landline), where it’s quiet enough to hear and calm enough to give the interview your full attention.
Do your research. Take time to familiarize yourself with the company–check out their website, take a look at their blog, and get a general sense for what they’re all about (pro tip: if you can mention a specific recent company blog post and explain why you liked it, you’ll get major bonus points for doing your homework).
Prepare notes (and keep them handy). One great thing about phone interviews is that you can create a little cheat sheet for yourself, just like that coveted 3×5 index card you were allowed to bring to your high school final exams. Go ahead and jot down questions, and outline answers to common questions or other info you want to make sure you mention.
Practice your answers. In many ways you’ll want to treat the phone interview as you would an in-person interview. Consider your answers to common interview questions beforehand (your best/worst traits, occasions in which you faced a challenge, where you see yourself in five years, etc.)
Keep your weapons handy. Have your resume, cover letter, and the job description handy, whether in paper form on your desk or a few clicks away on some Chrome tabs.
Smile like you’re in Disneyland. Your interviewer (or, as I like to think of him/her, quizmaster) will pick up on your tone. In fact, she will be paying even more attention to it, since she doesn’t get to see your lovely face. People can hear your smile, which makes them smile and think positive thoughts about you on the other end of the line. So go ahead, grin big!
Keep it conversational. Remember, quizmasters aren’t just looking for the perfect candidate–they want to find an employee they will enjoy working with too; someone they can chat with about the latest Game of Thrones episode. That’s why you’ll want to use a friendly, conversational tone in your interviews, rather than robotically answering the questions put forth to you like you’re being held at gunpoint.
Speak clearly. As moms around the world will forever remind you–annunciate! No mumbling is allowed around these parts. Speak clearly so your quizmaster can hear you properly, and keep water handy in case your mouth gets dry.
Show enthusiasm!! Ask about different aspects of the job and express genuine interest and excitement about the opportunity. Don’t be afraid to dig for more details about the position–we all know how vague and horrifically bland job postings can be. . You need to get a real sense of the job to know if it’s a good fit for you.
Avoid etiquette awkwardness. When dealing with an initial phone interview, it’s best to sit tight about benefit and salary questions. This first interview is about impressing your quizmaster and showing all that you can offer the company. If your interviewer brings the salary issue up, go ahead and serve a fresh hot cup of honesty.
Show off your smarts with Alex Trebek-esque questions. When the interviewer asks what question you have, that’s your big chance to shine. It’s good to always have a few questions prepared beforehand, but don’t be afraid to let the natural flow of the conversation inspire you. Questions show interest, so don’t skimp! (One fan favorite is: What will be the biggest challenge of this role in the next six months?). It’s also smart to do a little research into the company’s competition, and ask how they’re different or why they’re better.
Ask if they have any questions for you. Once you’ve finished up your Q&A with the quizmaster, end things by asking if she has any more questions for you. It’s a nice way to cap off the conversation and gives her a chance for any last-minute concerns.
What are the next steps? As the interview wraps up, make sure to ask what the expected next steps are regarding the position and when you can expect to hear about a follow-up. Not only is this valuable info to have, it also reinforces that you’re truly interested.
Follow-up with thanks. Always shoot your interviewers a quick thank you note. It doesn’t have to be a notarized letter of excessive acclamation–just a brief email of thanks will do (although sending a snail mail letter would certainly make you memorable). Sending a word of thanks simply shows that you appreciate the quizmaster taking time out of her busy day to chat with you. And who doesn’t appreciate appreciation?