When it comes to interview types, phone interviews can be one of the most challenging because it is easy to be too relaxed and forget that you are actually being assessed. Couple that with the lack of visual cues (is your interviewer engaged and smiling or zoned out?) and the fact that some are unscheduled, it can be hard to make a great impression.
The following tips will help you ace your next phone interview.
Location & surroundings
If your phone interview is scheduled, this is easier to control. Make sure you are somewhere quiet and free of distractions. This will make sure that you and the hiring manager can hear each other clearly and you can focus on the conversation.
For unscheduled calls, this can be a bit tricky. If you receive a call when you are out and are unable to find a quiet spot, don’t be frightened to ask to schedule a time to call back. Make sure you are clear about why and explain it in a way that reinforces that you are interested in the opportunity. For example “Thank you so much for calling, unfortunately I am out at the moment and its really noisy here, are we able to make a time for me to call you back? I want to be able to focus on this call because I am excited for the opportunity, is there a time that suits you?” sounds much better than “Sorry this isn’t a good time, can I call you back?”
Know why you want the job
If you have read any of my other articles on my website, LinkedIn or recruiter.com, you will know that I am a huge advocate for keeping records. Unscheduled interviews or nerves can cause your mind to go blank and you may not be able to articulate what interested you in the role.
One of the worst answers is “I just need a job”. Plenty of people need a job so take the time to find out something about the role and company that excites you. During the application process and while you are conducting your research, jot down a few points about the role and company that makes this a great opportunity for you because if a hiring manager is deciding between two candidates with similar experience, they will choose the person who is excited to work with them.
Be ready to tell stories
Everyone has a story so make the most of yours. Review your resume and think about your experience, what have you achieved in your past? what obstacles have you overcome? What have you done that you were great at? How did you improve your skills? These are all stories to tell.
Practice these, telling a story about what you have done that relates to the selection criteria helps the hiring manager to understand what you can do for them. Focus on outcomes, when you are speaking about problems, explain what it was but move on to tell them how you tackled it. Practice these stories, keep notes on them to refer back to if needed but have them ready.
When a hiring manager asks if you have any questions, they aren’t just being polite. They are giving you an opportunity to continue the conversation. When I interview a candidate, I leave time at the end for questions and always feel a little disappointed if they don’t have one outside of “When will I hear back?”. Of course it’s important to find out the next steps in the process and confirm follow up dates but ask some questions about the role and company first.
Don’t forget your manners
At the end of your interview, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time.
Once the call is over, send a thank you email. Thank them for their time again, reiterate your interest in the role, highlight something you found out that excites you, an area you feel you can add value to the business or if there is a question you didn’t get a chance to ask, pop it in the email.
One final note, at the end of the interview, always ask if there is any other information you can provide or if they have any other questions for you. Give the interview the opportunity to address any concerns they might have or at least open the door to further communication if they need additional information before making a decision.
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