5 Tips for Mastering Your Next Phone Interview

by Jen Parker on June 13, 2017

5 Tips for Mastering Your Next Phone Interview

There’s no denying that phone interviews can be awkward, but many companies still use them as an important first step in the hiring process. With more than 70,000 job applicants in 2016 alone, phone interviews are an effective screening tool for us to determine who we bring on-site for face-to-face interviews.

Aside from the obvious, phone interviews aren’t all that different from in-person interviews. Just as you’d spend time preparing to ace your in-person interview, you should commit to the same preparation for your phone interview. Without a solid phone interview, chances are good you won’t make it to the next step. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get ready for your next phone interview.

Choose Your Location Wisely — Your location can make  or break the interview, so choose one that is free from noise and distractions. A controlled environment, like your home, with good cellphone service is your best bet. (And if you have a landline, even better. Use it!) Avoid the neighborhood coffee shop so you can devote your full attention to the interview. If you have kids or pets, make sure they’re in another room and out of earshot during the call.

Do Your Homework — This can’t be overstated: Treat phone interviews with the same level of importance as an in-person interview and prepare accordingly. Make sure to have a copy of your resume handy to reference when needed, quick access to the internet and a list of well-thought-out questions.

Take time to research the company beforehand. Peruse their website, blogs and social media for information on projects, people, awards and current events. Scan the web for recent news articles, and research their competitors and industry to get a good sense for the company.

Get to know your interviewers, too. Use LinkedIn to learn a little more about who you’ll be speaking with. You may find that you share common interests that can help break the ice when the interview begins.

Dress for the Part You Want — This may seem silly considering the interviewer can’t see you, but how you dress affects your mindset — and can ultimately affect how you present yourself. Dress like you’re headed into the office; it’ll help you tackle the interview with confidence.

Be Mindful of Your Body Language — One of the benefits of in-person interviews is that you can pick up on non-verbal cues related to how the interview is going and can modify your technique as needed. You don’t have that same luxury over the phone, but be mindful of your own body language and how it could affect your performance. Maintain good posture and avoid fidgeting. If you need to pace, be sure you have plenty of clear space.

And don’t forget to smile! Your interviewers may not be able to see you, but they’ll hear it in your voice. Smiling exudes positivity and energy, and it shows that you’re excited to be there.

Be Intentional with Your Words — Small talk can go a long way — and that’s where your LinkedIn research comes in handy — but resist the urge the fill awkward moments of silence by rambling. Speak clearly using a friendly, conversational tone. Answer questions thoroughly yet succinctly and make it clear when you’re finished answering a question.

Remember, a phone interview is an important first step toward landing your dream job. Make it count! If you have other tips you’d add to my list, I’d love to hear from you. Share yours in the comments below.

Jen Parker is a certified professional of Human Resources (PHR) with more than 17 years of generalist experience ranging from recruitment to employee relations and training. As a recruitment manager at Burns & McDonnell, she oversees a team of HR recruiters and sourcing specialists responsible for recruiting and hiring engineers of all levels. Want to learn more about career opportunities at Burns & McDonnell? Check out our openings!

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