Five Tips for Stellar Phone Interviews

Phone interviews are often a necessary part of the hiring process. Scheduling and travel conflicts thwart one or more of the in-person interviews staffing professionals prefer, but doing a handful of brief phone interviews helps hiring mangers decide which candidates to bring in for lengthier interviews. Remember and practice these five tips and you’ll ace your next phone interview.

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1. Do Your Research

Planning for a phone interview should follow the same research as conventional interviews: know whom you’ll be talking with, and find out as much as you can about the company and role in advance. Dig around online to see what an employer says about themselves on their website and social media sites. Ask colleagues what they’ve heard about the company’s culture, products, and processes. Use search engines to find articles and reports on the company. And check through your network to see if you know anyone who works for your potential employer.

2. Mind Your Timing

The key to acing a phone interview is based on the timing (much shorter than conventional interviews). As James Caan suggests in this LinkedIn post, you should keep your answers brief and pause for a second or two after your answer to gauge whether the interviewer is waiting for more or ready or move on.

3. Put on Your Best Face

Because phone interviews lack the visual cues so many of us rely upon, you should be keenly aware of your facial expressions. Voiceover actors know that if you smile while you talk, listeners can hear that smile. So don’t roll your eyes or grimace if you wouldn’t do the same in person. Use the same powerful body language you would in person, including a few minutes before the call so your physical confidence comes through in your voice.

4. Set the Table for Two

While you talk, picture the interviewer in the same room with you, and direct your entire attention to the voice on the other end of the phone. You will sound disinterested on a phone interview if you’re wandering around and doing other things, so sit. Focus. Look at a chair in the room as though someone is there, and react to the interviewer as you would if she were in the room. And make sure there’s a glass of water at your place so your voice sounds its best. Nobody likes to hear dry mouth sounds on the phone, so lubricate those vocal chords!

5. Use cheat sheets

Since you’re by yourself in a room for a phone interview, make sure you have all your answers ready at your fingertips. Or, better yet, as this Forbes article notes, tape a copy of your resume to the wall near you for easy reference. Having your history at eye level means you can keep your posture good and your voice strong when you’re answering.

As long as you take a phone interview as seriously as you would an in-person interview, you’re going to do fine. Research, practice, focus, and act as though there’s someone actually there. Good luck!

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