You’re unlikely to be hired as a result of a phone interview alone, but they are increasingly used by hiring managers to screen candidates before meeting them in person.
Your goal when phone interviewing should be to communicate your interest in, and capacity to succeed at the position before progressing to more in-depth discussion at later interviews. Here are some things you should do before, during and after the call to ensure you make it to the next interview.
1. Make sure you’re all set-up to take the call.
Find a quiet place to speak where you know you’ll get phone signal. Mute your computer and phone so you won’t be distracted by notifications during. It’s also helpful to have a glass of water with you just in case.
Don’t forget to check your voicemail message as well. If you do miss the interviewer’s call, you want the voicemail they hear to be professional.
2. Prepare as you would for an in-person interview, but keep your notes close-by.
Though a phone interview may not be as lengthy as a face-to-face, you should take it just as seriously. Prepare for common interview questions and research the company thoroughly.
Phone interviews can be pretty awkward, but they do come with some benefits you should take advantage of. Have a copy of your CV and cover letter near you, and highlight the most relevant things you might want to mention. You can also make bullet-point notes about your skills and from your research on the company to refer to – just be wary of reading off the page and sounding flat.
Keep a pen and paper ready to take notes once the interview commences too. You should prepare some questions to ask the interviewer beforehand, then you can cross any off that are answered and add to existing ones as you go along.
3. Answer the phone assertively.
It’s best to always answer your phone by confirming to the recruiter that they have the right person and that you’re ready to talk. The simplest way to do this is by saying, “Hi, this is [your name]”.
Make sure you keep your interview notes, CV and cover letter easily accessible – especially if you aren’t 100% sure what time to expect a call. It’s important not to sound like you’re scrambling to find somewhere you can talk, or worse, like you don’t remember applying for the position.
4. Don’t forget to show you are engaged.
Phone interviews are uniquely challenging because you can’t communicate visually or via body language. The interviewer can’t see you gesticulating or smiling as you talk, so it’s important to make sure these marks of enthusiasm come through in your voice. Say “yes” every so often when you would otherwise nod so the interviewer knows you’re still listening.
The key to phone interviewing successfully is giving energy and enthusiasm. Louise Norris, Resourcing Project Leader at KFC, told GradTouch that “the people who impress are the ones who just want to have a chat with you, ask you questions and treat the recruiter like a human being and not someone to be scared of or revered.”
So, don’t forget to ask questions based on the notes you’ve been making over the course of the interview – it shows you’re paying attention and are interested in what they’re talking about. If you're stuck for what to ask, here are some good questions that will make you stand out.
5. Finally, thank them for calling and make it clear you’re interested (if you are!)
If the answers to your questions about the company’s culture and life at the office were the kind of thing you wanted to hear and you’re still very much interested in getting the job – tell them. As you round off the discussion, thank the interviewer for calling and make it clear you want to move forward in the hiring process. Afterwards, send them an email to thank them for their time.