“A good résumé may no longer be enough to get you in the door. Increasingly companies or their outside recruiters want you to go through a telephone interview first. In a typical search assignment with 100 or more candidates, I identify the 15 that interest me most and call them. Based on my impressions during telephone screening interviews, I meet with five or seven of these people. Only three of them make the shortlist that I present to my client.” - Deborah L. Jacobs
First, let’s answer the question of why do companies use phone interviews? Employers use telephone interviews as a way of identifying and recruiting candidates for employment. Phone interviews are often used to screen candidates to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for in-person interviews.
Take It as Seriously As An In Person Interview
This is an interview. Treat it like one! That means be ready. Make sure you’re well rested. The last thing an interviewer wants to do is feel as though they’re interrupting something else. With a little planning and preparation, plus the following 7 steps, you can conduct your phone interview with confidence and bring yourself much closer to your dream job.
1. Plan to Set Aside 15 to 30 minutes
Not knowing what to expect always adds anxiety. Your recruiter will probably tell you how long the interview is going to take ahead of time, but if not, be sure to ask. Fifteen minutes to Thirty minutes is typical for a phone interview.
2. Focus and Cut Out All Distractions
Create a comfortable environment. If you don't have a lot of experience with phone interviews, you might find them more stressful than live ones. So, do everything you can to feel at ease. Shut out distractions and eliminate background noise (for example, from young children and pets). Have a glass of water handy. Print out your résumé and mark key parts that you want to highlight in the conversation. Be ready 10 minutes early, so you don't sound rushed.
3. Practice Interviewing
Talking on the phone isn't as easy as it seems. As with an in-person interview, practice can be helpful. Not only will this help you rehearse answers to common phone interview questions, but it will also help you realize if you have a lot of verbal ticks, fail to enunciate, or speak too fast or too slow.
4. Do Some Research Before The Interview
Odds are you’ve applied to more than one company and it’s always helpful to know a bit about who you’re talking to, from both a professional and a business standpoint. Double check the job description you’re interviewing for. Google the company. See how they’re doing and what they’re doing.
Expect some variation on the question, "What do you know about us?" One of the nice things about a phone interview is that you can have your "cheat sheet" in front of you.
5. Be Prepared for a Few Open-Ended Questions
You're probably going to encounter some variant of "Tell me a little bit about yourself," which is why it's a good idea to have something like your professional purpose or a brief summary of your experience and goals memorized and ready to dispense when needed.
6. Clearly Express Your Interest in the Role and Company
if you're genuinely excited about the role and the company, it's essential for you to communicate that. Try to make some part of your response during the interview personal. If you've researched the company, do your best to work some of that research into your answers, connect your story to the mission and values of the company. This will make a difference
7. Follow the Four Cs of Tone
Always keep in mind the four Cs of voice: You want to sound calm, comfortable, confident and conversational. If nervousness is an issue, plan to stage a quick phone call with a friend or family member immediately before the interview. That can help you settle into a more comfortable, conversational flow.
After the phone interview send a thank-you note. Let half a business day go by and then send a brief note (no longer than one screen shot). Confirm your interest in the company, ability to do the job and desire to take things to the next step.
Sr. Professional Communications