The Art of the Phone Interview

If you’ve been avidly applying for jobs, you’ll know that it’s rare for an employer to receive less than 100 applications for each open position and that your chances of getting even a rejection email is a rarity these days. But if you’re lucky enough to get a call or email requesting an interview, odds are, that the initial interview for the job will be over the phone. Just as the amount of  applications an employer must sift though is high, so then is the amount of interviews they must hold. So to help ease that process, most employers start with a quick phone interview to simply get a feel for who they think they want for the job. And you better believe that a phone interview is just as important, if not more, than an in-person interview.  So here are a few tips to help you for that upcoming chat.

Be Prepared. Have a copy of your resume out and ready to use as a reference when being asked about your job roles and accomplishment. Also make sure you have pen and paper ready to jot down any mention of the important stuff such as compensation, insurance, etc. Part of being prepared should also include securing your phone connection. I’ve unfortunately blown one too many interviews as a result of a poor phone connection or excessive background noise. Be sure to  set aside a time and clear connection for you and your interviewer to comfortably discuss all the arse you’re going to be kicking for them.

Be very mindful of your speech.  Even if you have all your  bars, the connection still may be bad on their end and there could even be a slight delay if you’re speaking with someone in another time zone. And if you’re like me, speaking too fast when excited, make sure you speak slowly and clearly. It’s much easier understanding people when they’re sitting 5ft in front of you, not always so much when you’re heard over the phone. This also means: no gum chewing, no carbonation prior and no smoking. Also, NEVER interrupt your interview, no matter how long winded they may be, this is just as disrespectful as if they interrupted you, no matter how good of a point you want to make.

Maintain a positive physical appearance. This may sound strange, but if you dress nicely, smile and do all the things you would at an in-person interview, you’re bound to come off just as positive over the phone.  No matter what day or time, I never do interviews laying around in my pajamas while watching Jersey Shore. Shower, put on some clothes that make you feel good – I don’t care if wearing a suit around the house sounds ridiculous – and smile. This will keep your energy high, something that needs even more expression during a phone interview.

Follow though. Always confirm the interviewer’s name and the company/position they are hiring you for. I’m sure it’s safe to say this isn’t the only job you applied for, so make sure you know you’re taking to. Never answer with simple “yes” or “no”, always start your answer by touching on the question asked and give a thorough response. If the interviewer is asking you thoughtful question, let them know if you need time to think about it. It’s ok to ask for a moment to think, just make sure you ask rather than leaving unexplained ‘dead air’.

While it may seem that a phone interview is less important that an in-person interview, rest assured that it’s no less important that correct punctuation on your resume, and equally and devastating if done poorly. Think, breathe and let them control the pace. This interview is for them to make sure you have a pulse and a voice, so treat the interviewer with the same respect you would your priest and everything and hopefully they’ll be calling you back again for something a little more serious.

(Oh, and make sure you follow up your interview with a “thank you and looking forward” email!)





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