Tips for a Successful Phone Interview: Be Prepared

| Aspect Consulting | 30 March 2018

You Have an Interview!

Congratulations!  Scoring a telephone interview means you have made it to the pool of promising applicants.  While a telephone interview sounds like it’s easy, there is an art to successfully interviewing over the phone-you don’t want to make a misstep and ruin the opportunity.  You may not be a former boy scout, but Be Prepared should be your motto when it comes to a successful telephone interview.  So what should you know?

Be Prepared…with Your Environment

Find Some Quiet:  This may sound like common sense, but please use a land line (if you still have one) or make sure you are located in an area that provides good reception with no background noise or distractions.  You want to hear the interviewer and you want them to hear you.  A noisy background, road sounds, or a distracted response only conveys unprofessionalism.

Gather your Props:  Have a copy of your resume in front of you, and, if possible, open the company’s website for quick reference or inspiration.  Don’t forget a pen for notes.

Be Prepared…with Your Story

Know Your (Short) Story:  Practice your elevator speech-that few-second, concise story that answers the question “Tell me a little bit about you.”

Remember that the interviewer really wants to hear about your professional life:  give them a quick review of your job history and key skills, which is usually a conversational version of the introductory paragraph at the top of your resume.  Practice your story so that is sounds natural, and make sure you tailor your story to the particular job for which you are interviewing.

Know the Company:  Know as much about the company as possible.  Do a little research:  access the company’s website and search for the company name for recent news events.  You want to be able to demonstrate knowledge of the company during the interview.

Don’t Share too Much Information.  Steer clear of sharing information about your personal life.  Sharing personal information generally does not give you an advantage and can all too easily cast you in an unflattering light (e.g. that hobby might make you look less interested in your job).

Be Prepared…for the Interviewers Questions

Know Why You Want the Job:  What drew you to this position in the first place?  When you saw the job posting, what part of the description really made you think that you would be perfect for the position?  Take a few moments to really isolate the aspects of the job description that you feel passionate about, and match them to your particular skills.  Then think of previous work experience where you demonstrated that skill with excellent results.  You want to convey “This is that skill that you are looking for and it’s WHAT I’m good at…and this is WHY I’m good at it.”  Once you understand why you want the job, you will be prepared to answer many of the interviewer’s questions with success.

Build Bridges:  Try to look for ways to bridge what you’ve done in the past with what the position requires, even if you used a different technology or process.  Be looking for opportunities during the interview to explain why you are uniquely qualified, using those prepared back stories of success.

Do a Little More Research:  As another prep step, take some time and peruse typical interview questions and answers, and have a few basic answers to tricky questions prepared.  

Stand up and Smile… really:  Believe it or not, studies have shown that if you pretend you are really in front of the interviewer and smile and sit up straight, it changes the tone of your voice and makes you sound positive and relaxed.  Even better, you should stand up while speaking to convey even more confidence, but do not pace; that can make you sound breathless.

Know your Manners:  Be sure to speak at a normal speed and enunciate, and don’t forget your manners:  don’t interrupt the interviewer in your haste to tell your story, and don’t dominate the conversation.  Take a few seconds before answering if you start to feel like you are rushing or babbling.

Be Prepared…with Questions for the Interviewer

Be Interested and Informed: You want to sound engaged and interested in the interview, and remember that you need to find out information about the position as well so you can make your decision, so be prepared with a few questions to ask your interviewer.  Your questions can open up more opportunities to further highlight your skills or work experience.

Avoid any questions about salary or benefits; focus only on the job responsibilities or inquire about future trends within the company.  

Be Prepared…to Follow Up

Know the Timeframe:  It is okay to conclude the interview by politely asking about the timeframe for making a decision.

Show Your Interest:  If you are really interested in the position and you feel you are a great fit, be direct and let the interviewer know (e.g.  “I think I’m a great fit and will be able to bring X and X to the job.  I’d love to meet with you to discuss the position further.”).

Own the Thank You:  Thank you notes are not old-fashioned.  Be sure to send a thank you email as soon as possible, preferably right after the call to convey your interest.  Thank you notes should be very short, yet genuine.  


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