By Gage Hanson
Nobody likes phone interviews. Not exactly a controversial statement, but one that needs to be said nonetheless. There is a prevailing idea that everyone has that everyone else is great at talking on the phone. It isn’t true. So, when you have to interview on the phone for a job, an increasingly common event, how do you do well? Well, here’s 10 phone interview tips that will land you a second interview.
1. Make Sure Everything Works
This step is absolutely crucial. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been on a skype chat, conference call, or digital meeting where I haven’t been able to pay attention because someone’s microphone is crackling or where someone had to ask “what did you say?” half a dozen times because their speaker was less than stellar.
I recommend testing your phone by calling a friend the day of the interview to ensure that they can hear you well and you can hear them just as good. I also recommend keeping your phone charger nearby. If possible, use a microphone enabled pair of headphones. This will allow you to hear your interviewer clearly and higher quality headphones will have a microphone that is probably better than your phone’s. While not crucial, these will help the interview process go smoother.
2. Environment is Key
Do not do your interview outside or in a public place. Ever. You may think that a coffee shop is a good place to calm your nerves or a park is a quiet environment, but they have too many negatives to outweigh the positives.
The slightest bit of wind will be heard by the interviewer and you may not even realize how much your questions are being cut out. Even in a public place inside you have no control over what sounds will be happening or how loud your environment gets. It is best to stay in a trusted environment indoors, most preferably your room or home.
3. Dress to Impress, Really
I recommend that you wear the same exact outfit you would wear for your in-person interview. Don’t think that you can do your interview in nothing but your underwear. You can technically do it, but your mindset and confidence won’t nearly be the same. Dress your best and your interview skills will improve.
4. Prepare a Cheat Sheet
One of the major benefits of over the phone interviews is the same exact benefit of an open book exam. You can have notes in front of you. You can pull up your resume to know what your best speaking points will be. This interview tip will be one of the biggest game changers in increasing your chances of landing a second interview.
I suggest that you compile a note sheet of all your main talking points and the aspects of the company that excite you the most. These will all come in handy while you are talking. You won’t have to wait ten to fifteen seconds after every question to remember what you want to say. It would be a good idea to keep these notes to one page. Flipping through pages and pages of notes will be just as detrimental as not having any notes at all.
5. Slow and Simple
This tip works for in person interviews as well, but it is easier to fall into the problem it solves in phone interviews. People often speed up while talking on the phone. They get nervous, their heart speeds up, and they talk too fast. While interviewing in person you can pick up on clues and follow your interviewers pace easier, but you don’t get that benefit over the phone. So make sure to focus on your speed. You will feel like you are talking too slow, but that means you are speaking at exactly the right rate.
6. Active Listening
It is easy to start zoning out while you are interviewing on the phone. You can be distracted by what is going on around you, by something you see in your house, by a screen in front of you. Whatever it is, you have to divert your attention back to the interview. A good thing to do to ensure that your attention doesn’t wander is to try and form questions based on what your interviewer is saying. These questions will accomplish two things. You won’t be distracted and fumble through your interview, and your questions will impress your interviewer by showing interest and initiative.
7. Study Beforehand
While making your study sheet, you would also benefit from doing some studying. As much as you think your studying days are behind you now that you are searching for jobs, you are quite wrong. Studying common first interview questions and excellent answers to these questions and finding out more about the company you are interviewing for will make you stand out amongst all the applicants. Many applicants will stutter through generic answers. You can study and give specific, rock solid responses to impress your soon to be employer.
8. Practice makes Perfect
Another tip that works for regular interviews, this tip is doubly important when you have to talk on the phone. Lots of people practice what they are going to say before a regular phone call, so why shouldn’t you practice before a phone interview? It wouldn’t be out of the question for you to practice common interview questions over the phone with a close friend or family member.
9. Prepare Questions
While you are researching the company you are interviewing with, it would be wise to jot down a quick list of questions you think you could ask your interviewer about the job or company at the end of your interview. It is common to ask an applicant at the end of the interview if they have any questions. Simply saying “no” may come off as you not having any interest or deep desire to work in this position. Prepare 3-5 good questions that you could ask.
10. Check your Voicemail
The easiest of all these tips could also spare you the most embarrassment. I know a lot of people that haven’t changed their voicemail since they got their first phone in middle or high school. Imagine the voicemail you set up in high school being the first impression your interviewer gets if you somehow miss their call. Not the worst thing in the world, but also something you can easily avoid. Good luck.