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Top 10 Tips to Ace the Phone Interview

One of my favorite ways to interview new candidates is with the phone interview. I find that it can be quite effective in interviewing many candidates very quickly. This is also known as a screening interview. This type of interview is convenient for both you and the hiring manager or Human Resources department to conduct because it does not require an in-person meeting. The purpose of a phone interview is to ‘screen out’ candidates in order to find the most qualified people to invite for in-person interviews. I have participated in many phone interviews as both the interviewer or interviewee. Today I want to pass along some tips that you need to know to ace the phone interview.

 1. Prepare for the phone interview.

You need to treat the phone interview the same way as an in-person interview. This means you should go through the same amount of preparation as you would when interviewing onsite. Be sure to research the company, study your resume and job description. Be prepare to have responses to common questions.

2. Have your resume visible.

The nice thing about a phone interview is that you can have all your documents in front of you without the other person on the other line seeing it. Have your resume in front of you either printed out or on your computer screen. You will be referring to your resume throughout the interview to answer questions about your experiences and qualifications. If you have the job description, print this out too so that you can review it during the interview and tailor your answers to the job description. Another great idea is to have a cheat sheet with answers to a bunch of questions that the interviewer might ask you.

3. Find a quiet spot.

I recommend you find a quiet and private place where you won’t be disturb so you can take the call. It can be quite annoying when I hear a lot of background noises when interviewing someone over the phone. If you are currently employed while looking for a new job, you need to find a place outside of the office to take the call to avoid your co-workers from eavesdropping on your conversation.

4. Use a landline phone.

Unless you know that you will get great cell phone reception where you are I advise on using a landline phone. You don’t want to risk have issues with your cell phone during an interview. I have spoken to candidates on cell phones that are less than perfect signal and it can be hard for both the candidate and myself to hear each other clearly. This can be quite distracting, embarrassing and can lead to the interviewer having a poor impression of the candidate. Under no circumstances should you place the call on speaker phone.

5. Smile.

In my many years of interviewing candidates over the phone, it is rare for me to sense someone smiling on the other line. When you smile during the interview, it projects a positive image and confidence. It will elevate the tone of your voice and will make you sound more pleasant. In a phone interview, there is no way to read body languages so when you smile it will make a difference. The interviewer might think you are more self-assured, easy to get along with and friendly.

6. Speak slowly and clearly.

When doing a phone interview, you want to treat it as seriously as if you are meeting the interviewer in person. When answering questions you should take your time, answer it clearly and slowly. That is because the interviewer is judging you on your communications skills as well as your experiences and qualifications. You might have the greatest resume in the world but if you can’t communicate, then you are not going to move to the next step of the hiring process.

7. Don’t talk too much.

Be prepared for moments of silence on the phone. Do not feel you need to keep talking when there is a moment of  silence on the other line. This is normal and does not mean the interview is going downhill. The interviewer is just taking notes or thinking of the next question to ask you.

8. Stand up.

When you stand up you will sound more confident, energetic and assertive. The other person on the other line will not know you are doing this. Some people are better thinking on their feet.

9. Take notes.

Have a pen and paper ready to take notes. It is annoying for me to hear the candidate typing on their computer so pen and paper works well in this situation. Your notes can come in handy if you are invited to an in-person interview.

10. Thank the interviewer.

Your goal for a phone interview is to get an in-person interview. You need to express your interest in the job and ask the interviewer to tell you what the next step will be in the interview process. You want to end the call on a high note. You don’t want to end the phone interview without letting the interviewer know how much you appreciate their time in conducting this phone interview and how you look forward to meeting them in person.

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