Mastering Your Phone Interview: A Recipe for Success

Image of Susan Wittan
Susan Wittan

Most people find interviews in general to be nerve racking and quite frankly intimidating. But when you cannot see the person who is interviewing you, it brings the scare factor to another level. I believe that mastering your phone interview may be more difficult to get right than face to face interviews.

Phone interviews are difficult for many reasons:

  1. You cannot go off of the interviewers body language
  2. You are unable to see when the interviewer has finished asking a question or completed their thought
  3. The interviewer is not able to see your smile and your body language, making it difficult to have your personality come through
  4. Sometimes you get a cold call and are not able to prepare as you would if you had a scheduled interview

As someone who has been on both sides of the phone, I have discovered a few techniques that have helped me be more successful in my job search. Also, as an interviewer I have noticed a few skills that have assisted some interviewees in moving on to the next step of the process.

I enjoy baking, so I came up with a simple recipe for mastering your phone interview and it only has two ingredients, which will make you feel more at ease when you pick up the phone.

Ingredient #1: Preparation

Being prepared for any phone interview whether it is scheduled or a cold call is important. In both instances you can show your knowledge of the position and the company, tailor your answers and experiences towards the job description and most importantly you can be COMFORTABLE and CONFIDENT!

A few techniques to help with your preparation:

  1. Always carry a folder with you that contains: a cheat sheet that has all the jobs you applied to written down, a few copies of your resume, job descriptions, and research on the companies you applied to.
  2. Run through questions that might be asked during the interview and practice giving answers. (This helps you have quick responses to questions!)
  3. Dress the part! Dress as if it’s an in person interview to make yourself feel more in an interview mood. (Only works if the phone call is scheduled!)

Ingredient #2: Ace the Phone Call

It has been said many times before, finding a quiet place that has no background noise and distractions is crucial. But you would be surprised how many people don’t do this. You want to be able to hear the interviewer and you want them to be able to hear you clearly.

A few techniques to use during the phone call:

  1. Answer the phone professionally. You never know who is on the other side of that phone call.
  2. If it is a cold call, determining if it is a good time and ideal location to conduct an interview is important. It is okay to answer the question, “is this a good time?” honestly. But make sure you schedule a time for the call, that way you can prepare and be in a better location.
  3. SMILE! I cannot stress that enough. I know what you’re thinking, why should I smile, they can’t see me. Yes you’re right, they can’t see you, but smiling while you give your answers is communicated over the phone through your tone. (Keep a mirror in front of you to make sure you keep smiling during the phone call)
  4. Utilize your voice to show your personality.  Use different inflections while speaking to demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm about the position and the company. ( But don’t go overboard)
  5. Speak clearly, at a moderate speed and at a decent volume! It is really difficult to grasp what you are looking for and who you are, if the interviewer cannot understand or hear you.

Ingredient 3: Final Steps

What happens after the phone call is the same as the general post interview etiquette. Send a thank you note or email if you have the address or email of the person who interviewed you.  Saying thank you an extra time can only help you!

Now this isn’t a recipe for a guaranteed job offer (we all wish that existed!), but it is a recipe for putting your best foot forward and feeling confident whenever you get a phone interview. These steps will take away the scare factor of a phone interview. You might still be a nervous, but a little nervousness is a good thing (it means you’re alive and excited).  Now you know the secrets to mastering your phone interview!


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