woman talking on phone

Phone Interview Tips: How to Land an In-Person Interview

Today’s job market is much more competitive than it was 20 years ago. Add to that the fast-pace of the digital age, and things look quite different than when your parents were out job-hunting. Time equals money, and having vacant positions can be costly to businesses of all sizes. One of the ways companies are streamlining their hiring process is by conducting phone interviews to narrow down their candidate pool after going over applications and resumes.

While a phone interview might seem like the logical next step toward getting hired, it’s important to know that most companies use phone interviews questions to identify who not to hire; this means they’re looking for clues that you might not be a good fit for their needs. Knowing this gives you the opportunity to really prepare yourself and make sure that your phone interview helps you secure a second interview, and these telephone interview tips will help.

Shouldn’t a phone interview be less stressful than an in-person interview?

One of the biggest mistakes people make with a telephone interview is they get too comfortable and don’t take it seriously enough. Without having the interviewer directly in front of you, it’s easy to feel like you can relax – stay in your PJs, skip taking a shower, even hang out in bed while you chat on the phone. What you need to remember is that while you don’t have the interviewer in front of you to keep you on your best behavior, they also don’t have YOU in front of them to be able to pick up visual cues and gauge your personality. Instead of feeling like you lucked out by getting asked phone interview questions instead of having to get dressed up and take the time to go in for a real interview, look at it like you now have to work just as hard, if not harder, to make sure they see you as a viable candidate.

Telephone interview tips:

Preparing for a phone interview isn’t much different from preparing for an in-person interview. You should still do the same research on the company, practice answering common interview questions, and even dress for success. Here are some basic phone interview tips for getting ready to wow the interviewer:

  • Familiarize yourself with the job you’re applying for. Knowing what your job duties will be and what the qualifications and expectations are will help you craft your answers to highlight your skills and experience in a relevant way.
  • Get to know the company. Getting a feel for how the company operates, what kind of people they hire, what values are important to them, and what their future is projected to be can help you portray yourself as a member of the team. If they picture you as part of the team during the interview, it’s easier for you to land the job and actually be part of the team.
  • Have supplies ready. Have a copy of your resume, your cover letter, the job application and description, bulleted talking points, a list of questions you might have, and a pen and paper ready to go. Being prepared with these things at your fingertips will help keep you focused and prevent you from stammering or stalling while you scramble to find information that can help you answer the interviewer’s questions.
  • Look the part. Even though the interviewer can’t see you, if you take the time to get dressed up and put in the effort to smile and use good posture, these things will come through in your tone. Treating the phone interview just like an in-person interview can help you remember to be confident and concise in your answers, instead of feeling like you’re chatting with a friend.
  • Be warm and genuine. The fastest way to get thrown out of the running for a job is to sound cold and flat during your phone interview. Keep your tone warm, and don’t be afraid to laugh and be conversational. The interviewer can tell if you’re being genuine, probably more so than during an in-person interview because they only have your voice to go off of, so don’t be afraid to show off your communication skills.
  • Slow down. It’s easy when you’re nervous to talk faster, but during a phone interview it’s important to slow down and really enunciate to make sure you’re understood properly. Also, pause at the end of a question to make sure the interviewer is done speaking – this also shows them that you’re putting thought into your answers. Don’t leave too much dead space, or they could think you’re unprepared or that the connection is bad.

What NOT to do:

  • Don’t eat, drink, or chew gum. Keeping a glass of water nearby is acceptable, but don’t be slurping from a soda can or chugging down your coffee.
  • Don’t occupy yourself with TV, internet, relatives, pets, or other distractions. Keep your focus where it should be, or you might come across as disinterested or disengaged.

Knowing what to do, and what not to do can help make sure that you not only keep yourself from getting dropped from the interview pool, but can help you prepare yourself to stand out, get the in-person interview, and ultimately land the job.

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