How to Nail the Phone Interview

Though most companies are suffering a hiring-hold during the current health crisis, a lot are still hosting interviews to find their newest team member to come on board when they can hire again. In this digital age, there are so many ways to connect and even interview job candidates. One of the ways candidate screenings have persevered is by holding phone interviews. Finding a job now is more important than ever for those who have recently been let go or who are facing graduation in two months. So, to land that next (or first) position, you’ll want to be prepared to nail that phone interview. Good luck!


Dress the Part

Sure, they won’t be able to see you but by dressing up in your professional best, it changes your attitude by putting you in an interview mindset for the phone interview. Your attitude affects your tone, inflection, and all the vocal elements you’ll need to shine during the call. Our clothes make or break our confidence. Staying in pajamas will put you in a more sardonic, lazy mood and affect the way you respond to the employer’s questions. Dress the part, acting as though it was an in-person interview, and feel your confidence soar with improved voice and language.


It’s Okay to Cheat!

An upside to the phone interview is that you can have notes at the ready. But we advise still studying, so you sound more natural. An interview is a conversation, it should flow like one. Use your résumé and cover letter as notes as well, to remind you of your key achievements and stories of successful scenarios in your past positions. Also, in your notes, include five or six key points you’ll want to remember to address regarding your skills and experience you can bring to the team. It’s a blessing to have notes, but it’s still a best practice to practice the interview with a friend over a phone call to properly prepare.


Change your Voicemail

Listen to your voicemail greeting. Is your voicemail message personalized and sophisticated, and does it have all the relevant contact information to get a hold of you at another time? Make sure it’s professional and includes your name, should you think you might miss their call. It should be concise, but not as simple as, “Hey it’s [name], leave it at the beep!” A voicemail best practice for job seekers is something similar to, “Hello, you have reached [name]. Unfortunately, I’m unable to take your call right now. Please leave a message and include your contact details so I can get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you.” Clear, concise, and professional.


Don’t Miss the Call

Missing a phone interview is the equivalent to missing your appointment for an in-person interview. It doesn’t look good. Set an alarm to remind you when to get ready for the call and have your phone by your side five minutes before the scheduled call time. To ensure that others don’t call or text during your interview, put your phone on Do Not Disturb. When your phone beeps to alert you to a new call or text message, it can distract you and throw you off your game. You don’t want to lose your train of thought and deflate your well-crafted answer. Even worse, you don’t want to have to ask the interviewer to repeat their question for you because they cut out from the call-beep.


Charge your Phone

This one is a bit obvious, but we get so busy that we often forget. You don’t want your phone to die during the call or get interrupted by the “low battery” message. And if you have to charge your phone during the call, it can get awkward to hold the phone while it’s attached to the power chord. The interviewer can hear when you’re relaxed or straining in your voice. It’s best to be in a relaxed position, with freedom to hold the phone to your ear while you answer their questions.


Do a Test Call

Just as you would for an in-person interview, practice the phone interview. With a call, your personality is all dependent on your voice so your answers should sound confident, not wavering. Lots of “ums” or pauses could give the caller the impression that you’re not a strong candidate and that you lack soft skills that employers are looking for, such as leadership and organization. Do a test call with a friend to practice your answers, so you’ll sound prepared and poised.


Cut Distractions

Phone interviews and video interviews have this requirement in common – Cut background noise and interruptions! If someone walks into the room, or if loud noise sounds off during the call it can be distracting for both you and the interviewer. And you don’t want to have to put the caller on hold, as that will affect your chances for continuing through the interview process. Mitigate all possible distractions before your phone rings and you’ll have a great call.


Pretend It’s In-Person

A phone interview right now is a replacement for an in-person, so you’ll want your best traits to shine. To do that, it’s a best practice to pretend the interviewer is in the room with you. Use a stuffed animal, a child’s doll, or some other object with a face that can help you visualize talking with the interviewer across from you. And don’t forget to smile during the call; The interviewer can hear a smile in your voice.


With these tips, you’ll nail that next phone interview. Take a breathe, be prepared, and address the caller by their first name to establish a connection. You’ve got this! For more tips on preparing for all types of interviews, keep up with our news and job postings on pdxMindShare!