It’s become common practice for most hiring positions to host a first interview by phone. The initial phone interview is often held by a recruiter or hiring manager and is used to sift through a pool of applicants. Managers use this process to screen you to ensure you are a good fit before spending time and resources needed for an in person interview. You are often one of many applicants who will receive a phone interview. This is your one chance to make a good enough impression to get a foot in the door, so it’s imperative to nail the phone interview.
Sometimes managers or recruiters will call to offer an interview, and when you accept, they may ask for an on the spot phone interview. If this happens, it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I am sorry, but this is not a good time. I would love to schedule a time to meet later,” if you are busy when they call. It is far better to be assertive and tell them that a later time would work better for you than it would be to take this interview unprepared, or in a distracting environment.
When you are ready to take the phone interview, follow these three steps to nail it:
- Prepare. When you are preparing for your phone interview, make sure to take the call in a quiet place with no distractions—this means no children in the background, no dogs barking, and no TV or radio on. Do your research on the company. Make a list of reasons you’d like to work for this company. Make a list of common interview questions, and rehearse your answers. Make a list of questions to ask about the company and position. Think about your past experiences and why you would make a good candidate for the position.
- Interview. Make sure to stay positive and remain confident once the interview begins. Take this interview as formally and seriously as you would an in person interview. Remember to share specific examples of past experiences that would make you a good fit for the position. Smile when you are speaking. I know this sounds strange, to sit on the phone smiling with no one there to see, but a smile can actually be heard in your voice. It will make you sound much more pleasant and friendly.
- Follow-Up. Ask when you should expect to hear back on next steps for the interview process. Ask for the interviewer’s contact information. After the interview, send a thank you note and reaffirm your interest in the position and qualifications that set you apart from other candidates.