Even before the coronavirus, companies used phone interviews to start the recruiting process. These tips are specifically for phone screens. See this resource for Zoom interviews (video calls). Phone screens or initial interviews are your first chance to make an impression on a potential employer. So it’s important to treat them just as seriously as you would an in-person interview. Especially because they determine whether the HR professional will advance you on to the next round. Below are some tips to help perfect your phone interview skills and help you land that job.
Prepare for a Phone Interview
Just like with a face-to-face interview, it’s imperative to be as prepared as possible for a phone interview. Schedule your phone interview when you know you’ll be free and able to take the call in a quiet space. This needs to be a distraction-free zone. Have a copy of your resume, cover letter, and the job description on hand. Read the job description thoroughly and prepare anecdotes for when you’ve performed the listed duties. It’s also helpful to have information about the company, the person you’re interviewing with and a list of potential questions.
The more research you do on the industry, the company and the specific people you’ll be meeting with the better impression you’ll make.
Recap Your Job History
Think through your chronological work history prior to the interview to bring up potential relevant work dates should you need to. The phone screener or interviewer may want to discuss the length of employment you’ve had at certain companies, or ask for explanations for work gaps. Be ready to provide accurate dates. If your work history doesn’t match up, it may be a red flag to the person on the other end of the call.
Project a Positive Attitude with Your Voice
Since you only have your voice to depend on, it’s important to speak clearly and try to convey enthusiasm and confidence with your tone. Try to express your passion for your work. Let your personality shine through with humor and an optimistic attitude. One way to project this is by smiling while you are talking (when appropriate).
Listen During Your Phone Interview
Like any good conversation, successful interviews are a two-way exchange. Allow the interviewer to lead the discussion and be careful not to interrupt. Listen to the questions carefully and give thoughtful but concise answers. Don’t go off on tangents, particularly since you’ll be unable to read the interviewer’s non-verbal cues on a phone interview the way you can during an in-person meeting.
When in doubt, repeat the question, “What I heard was you would like to know…” This can give you time to answer, and is also evidence of a communication skill known as ‘active listening.’
Surprising as it may seem, sometimes job applicants on phone interviews start to get distracted during the call and try and multi-task. Even though the person on the other end can’t see you, tiny pauses in your response or changes to the tone of your voice will make an impression on the phone screener. Give them your full attention!
If the interview has gone well and you feel a connection with the interviewer, don’t hesitate to be confident and take the initiative to request a second, in-person interview. If the interviewer doesn’t commit, be sure you ask what the next steps will be, when they’ll notify you about a second interview, the hiring timeline, etc. This shows you’re engaged and interested and having clear expectations on the process will help you rest easier at night as you wait for the phone call.
If you are out of town, be sure to let them know when you are open to traveling to the location. This can trigger movement if you will be in a town near a certain weekend, for a Friday afternoon interview.
The most important takeaway should be to treat phone interviews just like an in-person interview. Potential employers are gauging whether you’re worth the time they would spend on an in-person interview so be sure you bring your A-game to keep the hiring process moving forward and ultimately win the job you want.
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