How to impress in a phone interview

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A man sitting outside a building and smiling while taking part in a phone interview.

From panels to Skype or Facetime calls, Google hangouts to coffee shop meetings, there are many different ways to be interviewed. You should be prepared for them all as part of your job search. Phone interviews, especially, are very common, not least because they’re a practical way for recruiters to screen candidates ahead of a comprehensive meeting.

That being said, a phone interview has the potential to last just as long as a face-to-face meeting – if not longer – so it definitely pays to be prepared if you have a scheduled call in the diary. In shorter phone calls, the hiring manager or recruiter may just be looking for an articulate manner and confidence, but in the event of a longer phone call you’ll likely need to elaborate on your professional experience and achievements.

Do your prep

Set aside quiet time for your interview and be sure that you won’t be interrupted. Treat it as you would a meeting, and ensure there’s no background noise such as radio, TV or children. The other potential annoyance could be a fading battery so charge up before you answer the call. Sit down five minutes beforehand with your printed CV and any other necessary paperwork you might need. It’s best to be relaxed, not flustered, when you answer the phone. If you have one, consider wearing a headset – it will make note-taking easier.

In all other aspects, the phone interview should be treated as you would any other interview. Complete your research ahead of time: Review the business online, Google your interviewer and look out for any latest news items where the business might have appeared in the press. Be prepared to ask intelligent questions about the future of the company and what your role might look like within it.

One thing to know is that a phone interview is likely to feel less spontaneous than a face-to-face meeting. The interviewer will probably have a script they want to follow and are needing to tick off the boxes. While you might feel rushed at times, it’s possible they’re getting the answers they need so just go with their flow.

Obviously, it can be difficult to gauge body language on a phone call, so it does make it a little harder to judge how happy they are with your responses. The way to get around this is to try and help them out along the way. For example, if they ask you to summarise your career, before you progress to responding ask them to stop you at any point that they have questions or would like you to expand your point. Similarly, once you’ve finished answering, clarify you’ve covered everything that they were looking for before continuing.

Let your personality shine through

Have you ever noticed you can hear a smile on the phone? Strange as it sounds, answer the phone with a smile and with confidence. It’s a first impression that will stand you in good stead down the track. Similarly, maintain a consistent level of enthusiasm throughout the interview as this will be the most effective means to project your personality.

Try not to get too flustered, and if you need more time at any point, it’s totally fine to simply state, ‘let me think about that for a second’. Once you’ve come to the end of the call and all your questions are answered, thank them for taking the time to talk to you about the opportunity and reiterate your interest in the role. If you have their contact details to hand, send a quick note of thanks by email too.

Want to talk to Tiger about your next big career step? Get in touch today!

Author Tiger Contributor Tiger Recruitment Team

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