Prepping for interviews is an essential part of any job search — but are you ready for the right kind of interview? You might have been preparing for an in-person interview, only to find that your initial interview will be over the phone.
Many companies use phone interviews as a pre-screening tool. These interviews are faster and more convenient for busy hiring managers, and can help them reduce a large pool of applicants who are qualified on paper to a manageable size for in-person interviews. If you survive the phone screening, you’ll be invited in to sit down for a traditional interview.
Getting ready for a phone interview is similar to prepping for a traditional interview, but there are a few modifications and additional steps you should take to prepare. These five tips will help you ace your phone interview and move on to the next phase.
1. Take it seriously
The idea of a phone interview can seem informal, so it’s common to think that you’ll be able to just rattle off your qualifications and pass with ease — and therefore, you don’t need to prepare. But the fact is that companies use phone interviews to screen out applicants, and they’re looking for a reason to not schedule a formal interview with you.
Prepare thoroughly for a phone screening, just as you would for a traditional interview. Make sure you’ve studied the job description, researched the company, and practiced your responses to common interview questions.
When should you start preparing for a phone interview? Preferably, as soon as you send off your resume — some hiring managers like to save even more time by asking to do the phone interview the first time they call, instead of scheduling a time for later.
2. Print out your materials
Unless you have all of your application materials memorized completely, it’s a good idea to print everything out and have it in front of you during a phone interview. You’ll almost certainly be asked about specific things that appear on these documents. Make a hard copy of your:
- Resume and bio
- Cover letter
- Full job description
- Supporting documentation, such as your portfolio or internship position description
In addition to these documents, you can create a “cheat sheet” that will help you stay focused during the phone interview. Make notes of any critical points you want to make with the employer, such as your relevant skills and experience, your interests and passions, and particular abilities that match the written job description.
3. Prep your environment
While you’re not interviewing face to face, you still have to present yourself as a professional during a phone screening. This means you’ll need a good quality phone — a landline, if possible — that doesn’t produce delays, echoes, or tinny sounds, and won’t drop your call in the middle of the interview.
You’ll also need a quiet environment to conduct the interview where you won’t be distracted or interrupted. Choose a private room with a door, where there won’t be traffic noise or barking dogs. If other people will be around during the interview, stress the importance of not having background noise. And if you’re unable to have quiet and privacy at home, consider reserving a private room at a library or other place where you won’t be interrupted.
4. Dress for success
Even though the interviewer isn’t going to see you during a phone screening, it’s still important to prepare and dress the same as you would for a traditional interview. Grab a shower, eat breakfast, and wear a professional outfit for your phone interview.
Why should you do this? Going through the motions of preparing for a live interview will put you in the right frame of mind. If you’re still in your pajamas and interviewing from your bed, you’re likely to feel you’re having an informal chat with a friend, instead of a professional interview that will decide whether you get the job you want.
5. Stand up (or sit straight)
Once again, the hiring manager can’t see you during a phone interview — but your position matters. Like your attire, the way you physically conduct yourself during a conversation affects your frame of mind. Research shows that people who are standing while speaking project themselves better, and feel more confident in what they’re saying — which translates even over the phone.
If you’re uncomfortable or unable to stand, you should at least sit up straight behind a desk or table, with your hard copy documents in front of you. This position projects a more professional stance than slumping on a couch or lounging in bed.
Getting ready for a phone interview? Contact our team of recruiting experts at The Armada Group. We can help you prepare for any interview situation, and ace them all!