16 Phone Interview Tips to Get You to the Next Round

16 Phone Interview Tips to Get You to the Next Round

Phone interviews are a common first stage of the hiring process. They can be used to for initial screenings of candidates before bringing them in for an in-person interview. Because of this, it’s important that you do a great job on them and treat them just as you would any other interview. In this article, we’ll cover phone interview tips to help you crush it and move on to the next stage in the interview process. Here are the main categories we’ll cover: 

  • Research
  • Preparation
  • Tips for during the phone interview
  • After the interview

Research

Like any job interview, it’s important to do your research ahead of time. The more you know about the position and the company, the better prepared you’ll be to ask meaningful questions and provide answers to theirs along with examples of relevant experience. 

Know Who’s Calling You

One of the first steps for research is to understand who will be calling you. Is it an outside recruiter? An internal recruiter or HR person? Is it your potential manager? Knowing who is calling should give you a better idea of the questions they’ll ask and the information they’re looking to get. 

For example, an outside recruiter will be interested in your general skill set, salary requirements, and your career goals. An internal recruiter may ask about those topics as well but also will ask (and answer) questions about the company and its culture. Your potential manager is going to ask more specific questions on how you would perform in the role. 

Find out who they are and don’t be afraid to check out their LinkedIn profile — they’ll be doing the same for you. Check out their work history and education to get an idea of who they are and to see if you have any commonalities. It’s always a good thing when you can make a connection.

Research the Job

Really researching the job is an important part of any interview process. Read through the job description, let it absorb, then read through it again. Picture yourself doing that role and write down any questions you might still have. Additionally, start thinking about your skills and experience and how they apply to the job. Write yourself some notes so you can easily jog your memory when you’re on the phone for your interview. 

Be sure to check out sites like Glassdoor and look at the submissions for interview questions and experiences. Also take a look to see what the estimated salary is for the position as well as similar positions at other companies. This will help you prepare for questions on what you’d like for compensation. 

Research the Company

Just as important as the job you’re interviewing for is the company that might be your future employer. One of the things you’ll want to start to figure out during your phone interview is whether or not the company is a fit for you. Check out their website and read about who they are, their history, and what their core values are. Go through their LinkedIn page and read their reviews on Glassdoor. However, be sure to take Glassdoor reviews with a grain of salt. Like most user reviews, some are done out of emotion and may not reflect how most employees feel.

Preparation

With your research done, it’s time to finalize your preparations. These phone interview tips, like research, will set you up for success during the call.

Double-check the interview time, confirm if needed

This should be an easy one to do but even still it’s one of the most important. You certainly don’t want to miss a call accidentally because you had the wrong time. Make sure you and your interviewer have the same time and be sure to make sure you’re both talking about the same time zone. If you’re unsure at all, send you point of contact a quick note to confirm.

Pick out a quiet, comfortable place

This might seem like an obvious phone interview tip for some, but it’s worth repeating regardless. Be sure to choose a quiet place where you’re comfortable to have the call. A public place like a coffee shop is not ideal. You want a place where there will be little background noise and little distraction. A quiet office or even a bedroom with the door closed is ideal. If you’re having to do the interview while at work at your current job, try to reserve a call room where you won’t be overheard. 

Read more: The Best Budget Office Chairs Under $50

Charge Your Devices

This phone interview tip can be an easy one to forget during the busy day. Make sure your phone and laptop are charged before starting the interview. You don’t want to suddenly drop out of your call because your phone suddenly died. Likewise, you don’t want to lose any of your notes or list of questions because your laptop ran out of battery. Make sure everything is charged and consider bringing your chargers as well, just in case. 

Prep your materials and have everything pulled up

This is one of the most important things you can do before a phone interview. This is also where the interview format plays to your advantage. You can have your laptop in front of you while you’re on the phone with your research materials, the job description, your resume, any notes you’ve made, and your list of questions.

I would recommend writing out a list of questions you want to ask during the interview. Not only is having questions to ask important, you also want to have meaningful ones that really give insight into what you want to know. It can be easy to forget to ask some of these during the interview, so having them written down and in front of you can be a big benefit. 

Practice

Finally for your prep work, practice. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect and it’s true for phone interviews as well. Practice your answers to common questions like, “Tell me a little about yourself,” or “Why are you leaving your current job?” Likewise, practice your questions and make sure you have the wording just right. 

Tips for during the phone interview

There are a few things to keep in mind while on a phone interview. While some of these might apply to all types of interviews, they’re especially true while on the phone. 

Take it seriously

It’s important to come into the phone interview with the right mindset. This interview is just as important as a video interview or an in-person one. Take it seriously and keep in mind that if you succeed, it’s likely you’ll move on to the next stage in the interview process. 

Listen, don’t dominate

It can be easy to try and talk to much, especially when you’re on a phone call and you can’t see the other person and their reactions or body language. Because of that, be sure to take time to listen and try not to dominate the conversation. Besides, an interview shouldn’t be a one-sided thing — it should be a conversation between the two parties. You’re also trying to make sure that this is the right job and the right company for you, so it’s important to listen to the interviewer and absorb what they’re saying.

Slow down

Often people have a habit of talking differently on the phone than they do in person. Sometimes this means speeding up our speech and talking too fast. Remind yourself to slow down and speak thoughtfully and confidently. If you have to pause for a beat after a question to gather a thought, do it. Better to give the answer you want to give instead of one that’s rushed. 

Take notes

Don’t be afraid to jot down notes during the call. As long as it’s not prohibiting you from listening or taking you out of the conversation, note down things that’ll want to reference later — either during the call or afterwards when reflecting or preparing for the next interview stage. Additionally, you should write down any questions that come to mind during the conversation. Having a question that follows up on something the interviewer said shows that you’re thoughtful and were listening to them. 

After the interview

It’s almost important to send a thank you email, even after a phone interview. As someone who often conducts phone, video, and in-person interviews, it stands out when someone takes the time to send a thank you. You’d be surprised how many people don’t. Thank them for their time and the opportunity. Try to reference something you liked during the interview, something about the job, the company, or both. Again, this shows that you were listening and are thoughtful. A more personalized thank you note goes even further than a generic one.

Read more: 4 Reasons Why You Should Never Cancel an Interview (Even if You Think You Found Another Job)

During the phone call you should have gotten a clear idea of the next steps or the timeline. If you still have any uncertainty about either of those aspects, make sure you get clear on them.

Phone interviews are a typical way for companies to start the hiring process for a position they’re looking to fill. Whether it’s a recruiter or a hiring manager calling you, you need to be well prepared for it. These phone interview tips will help give you the best possible chance to nail your next one and move on to the next interview. 

David Cusick

David Cusick is the executive editor for Overheard on Conference Calls. He comes from a strong news background and currently works in digital marketing in Raleigh, NC. His work has won multiple awards, including Interactive Content Marketing's award for Best Use of Content Marketing and the US Search Award for Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign. Additionally, his work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, CNN, ABC, Business Insider, and more.
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