Phone interviews are never my favourite form of interviewing, but it was my first point of contact with my placement company and it also landed me a job in NYC as I was interviewed over the phone by my manager in San Francisco.
I find it hard to articulate your personal energy or even personality on the phone compared to an in-person interview. There are so many things that the interviewer can’t see over the phone and they are unable to put a face to the name. The only way you can sell yourself over the phone is through your voice and choice of words.
Here are five tips that should help you nail the phone interview and progress you into the next round of interviews (hopefully in-person or by Zoom).
Yes, I know they can’t see you, but honestly, smiling really helps. You might feel like an absolute lunatic smiling at no one in the room where you’re conducting your call, but it makes your tone of voice sound happier without you even realizing.
One thing you don’t want to do is sound like you’ve just woken up on your call. If the interview is early in the morning, make sure to wake up at a reasonable time before-hand. Have your coffee or water and incorporate some movement into your morning routine to feel fully awake.
2. Be prepared
If you’re applying to a lot of jobs around the same time, make sure you know what role the interviewer is calling you to talk about. That might sound baffling, but when I was applying for placement positions, I had employers call me randomly and I often had no idea what the name of the role was that they were referring to.
If you know about your phone interview well in advance, have notes out in front of you before your call. Have a print-out of your CV and cover letter in front of you so you aren’t caught off guard by anything they ask about your previous work history.
Be prepared with notes about the company, any recent news articles concerning the company or even award wins. Show the interviewer that you are caught-up on what’s happening with the company and know a great deal about it.
3. Be somewhere quiet, with good signal
Again, another obvious point but a very important one. Before your phone interview, test out your phone signal around your house and figure out where gives the best reception.
If like me, you live in a very rural location, the best phone signal may be in the least expected place like your shower, bath or shoe closet. Whatever works.
You will also want to make sure that those you live with don’t disturb you during your call or make any loud noises. Ask any flatmates to kindly turn their music or TVs down and to not randomly burst in on you while you are in the process of your interview.
4. Make sure your phone is fully charged
Probably the most obvious point of all, but one that is sometimes forgotten. You don’t want to be tied to taking your phonecall next to a charging point that has little to no reception, so make sure your phone is charged ahead of time.
If your phonecall is scheduled for early in the morning, you don’t want to wake up to a low phone battery or even worse, a phone that has died during the night and you’ve missed your alarm.
If needed, make sure your phone is charged and ready to go the night before your interview.
5. Pretend the interviewer is sitting in front of you
Creepy? Maybe. But I try to act like the interviewer is sat across from me while on the phonecall so that I come across more animated and I get my point across. Cue lots of animated hand gestures and arm movements.
Take the interview seriously. Even though the person interviewing you may say that the call is an informal chat, it’s still a call that may help you proceed to the next stage of the interview process.
Take your time, slow down and say all that you have to say in your answers. Make sure to listen and not dominate the call. Let the interviewer speak and focus so that you can answer their question to the best of your ability.