How to ace a phone interview
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t feel a shudder down their spine when they’re invited to a phone interview? It’s a strange one. Many of us spend a bunch of time talking on the phone, socially and for work, but the prospect of an interview done this way? Nerve-wracking.
A big reason for this being that by taking part in an interview over the phone, you lose the ability to check out the body language of your interviewer – always a good indicator of how well things are (or aren’t) going. It’s notoriously difficult (and actually a great skill) to build great rapport and relationships over the phone, so if that’s not necessarily your forte this can feel like a disadvantage.
That being said they are still a necessary evil in the world of recruitment, so let’s break down how to nail your phone interview - even if you think you’re not great on the phone.
The obvious one. You wouldn’t go to an interview unprepared (hopefully...), and a phone interview is no different. Do you due diligence beforehand – check out their website, do a quick refresher of the job ad and person spec, and have your CV in front of you along with your notes.
Chances are the call is scheduled, so you’ll be able to plan where you’ll be when you take the call. Your local pub at lunchtime is probably not the best shout, and neither is hiding in the stationery cupboard at your current place of work.
Pick somewhere calm, quiet and comfortable.
Set yourself up with your notes, a pen, paper and a glass of water.
Dress to impress! Okay, no one is going to see you, but it’s a frame of mind thing.
First things first – there IS going to be silences. Make your peace with that now. These probably aren’t awkward pauses – this is your interviewer jotting down your answers or preparing to move to the next set of questions. You don’t need to fill these silences! Use them as a chance to gather yourself or take a sip of water.
Now that’s out of the way, let's get to it.
Answering the phone
You’re expecting this call, and it’s a formal call at that. So, rather than a ‘hello?’, go for ‘Hello, John speaking’. It’s more professional, and lets them know they’re through to the right person without the “Hi is that John?” “Speaking” “Hi, It’s...” conversation.
Once the intros and pleasantries are out of the way, the likelihood is that the interviewer will run through the basic format of the interview with you, so you know what to expect. They may also go over a bit about the role and the company, and a bit about what they’re looking for. Make a note of anything pertinent that you may want to come back to later in the call.
As we mentioned, it can be harder to make a good impression over the phone. A few ways to help you bypass the downfalls of not being face-to-face are:
Drink plenty of water
Sit up straight (or stand)
At the end of the call come back to any points you’ve noted, and if you’re excited about the role try and end on a positive note. Express your interest and inquire about the next steps and your enthusiasm to move through the process.
The hard work is done. Follow up with an email later in the day (not right away), just thanking the interviewer for their time and insight into the role and company, and again express your continued interest in the role.
After this, it's a waiting game. Chances are they have more interviews or need time to have talks internally regarding the role and the interviewees. Don't follow up straight away - the ball is in their court now, and your recruiter will also be chasing on your behalf, so let them do the legwork!
And that's it! It will be fairly painless if you do your prep and follow these easy tips. Good luck!