The Phone Interview

Six-Figure Job Interview Guide

Normally the hiring and interview process starts with a phone interview of some sort. It can be just a quick screening and then a job interview gets scheduled. Or it is a phone screening followed by a full-blown phone interview.

No matter which one you will get, you have to be prepared.

  • Keep a copy of your resume close by. You can tape it to the wall or have it open on the desk, but have it somewhere so that you can instantly look at it and find a reply to a question.
  • Keep a copy of the job description equally visible.
  • Have the hiring company’s website open so that you can lookup items quickly. BUT – you need to be able to multi-task – speaking and looking something up on a website can be quite difficult. The last thing you want to do is to make the impression you are distracted.
  • Create a top 5 list of your major accomplishments.
  • Have your calendar close by in case you get asked for availability to come in for an in-person interview.
  • Write down the name of the interview partner and use it a couple times during the interview as well as when ending the call.
  • Find a room or spot where you will not be interrupted.
  • If you have a pet, make sure she is in another room and cannot disturb you. If you have a dog that barks a lot, find a place where he either does not bark or where you cannot hear the barking ever.
  • Preferably use a landline phone for a phone interview. The call quality is simply better and you reduce the risk of having dropped calls or bad call quality.
  • Sit properly or better – stand while talking. Don’t hang around on the couch or lay in bed. Body language is very important.
  • Smile. People “can see it on the other end” because smiling changes the sound of your voice. This goes hand in hand with body language.
  • Keep a glass of water handy, in case you need to wet your mouth. Don’t drink sugary sodas or worse any kind of alcohol. Yes, this is a stressful situation, but do not drink alcohol. You might get tipsy faster than expected and it can ruin the interview.
  • Speak slowly.
  • Take notes. It is very important to take brief notes (hints/keywords) during the phone interview and immediately afterward to write down everything you remember based on the keywords you wrote down during the phone interview. They will be important for your follow-up email as well as when (if) you go in for an in-person interview.
  • Be ready! It is best to be ready for the phone interview about 5-10 minutes early. Some recruiters or managers like to test their candidates by calling a few moments early to see how they respond. Just be ready a bit in advance and you are good.

Phone interview skills are important. If you fail here, there will be no in-person interview. The better you prepare, the more you increase your chances of passing this level with flying colors.

Tip: Dress up for the phone interview and treat it like an in-person interview. You will feel more professional, which usually results in being more focused and more concentrated.

Tip II: Pick common interview questions and write down your answers on paper and have them handy during the phone interview. If you get nervous or distracted, it can be easy to forget something. Having pre-written answers close will help to stay on track. BUT – DO NOT READ the responses back to the interviewer. Talk freely—just use the written responses as a guideline.