Phone Interview Tips

Telephone

Doing your research

  • Research the company website prior to your interview.
  • Review the profile of the interviewer on LinkedIn to get a good sense of his/her background.
  • Research the projects (software, packages, cloud).
  • Research previous open positions (Indeed, Monster, Dice) to be able to use the buzzwords of the jobs during phone interviews.

 

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

  • Be honest and humble.
  • Talk up your achievements, but don’t lie.
  • You have only a few minutes to give your professional life story.
  • Don’t waste time talking about how you were the captain of the football team in high school, or that you won Miss 4th of July when you were sixteen.
  • Get straight to the good stuff on your resume.
  • Do include some personal information, but only if it makes sense to the position or the company. For example, if you are interviewing with a company that manufactures kitchenware and you are a foodie, then mention something along the lines of how you wish you could find a good cast iron skillet for your kitchen, or how much you love their products (only if you actually own and use them, again, don’t lie).

 

Cut the chatter

  • Remember, this is a phone interview, not a chat with your BFF to make weekend plans.
  • Answer questions with confidence and poise, avoid “umm,” “and,” and “well, uhh, yeah.”
  • Never “yeah,” always “yes!” We’ve all been there!
  • If you get nervous and start to stumble over your words, take a breath, and start over. I’m sure your interviewer will understand.  (How?  Right away switch your thoughts for few seconds on things such as:  This is phone, this is wall, this is table, this is my laptop).  Then back to phone interview.
  • Be quick, clear and concise with your answers, be friendly and outgoing, and show your personality.
  • The majority of the positions recruiters fill are a 50/50 ratio of your resume and your personality.
  • Some companies will put more value on a good personality than strong resumes, especially if that company has a strong core group working there.

 

Grab them with HELLO

  • Before you pick up the phone, smile!
  • Believe it or not, you really can hear a smile over the phone. Most people answer the phone with a simple “hello,” try to change it up a bit.  Try “good morning/afternoon,” or perhaps “this is (name),” or even a combination of the two.  Whatever rolls off your tongue most naturally.  Be excited and happy to answer the phone, and SMILE!

 

The greeting

  • Once you have answered the phone, and your interviewer introduces him or herself, repeat the name back. “Hi Sylvia, it’s nice to speak with you, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.”
  • Be personable, “How is your day so far?” Be sincere, don’t be fake, they will hear that in your voice, as well.  This is a phone interview, so it is so important to listen to what is being said and responding appropriately.

 

Confidence

  • Your resume must be good if you’ve made it to the phone interview, so own that!
  • Be confident!
  • This is your chance to really grab the person on the other end of the phone, so take advantage of this moment and really WOW the interviewer.
  • If you’re home when the call comes, put on your power suit and really feel like you’re going to an interview. Be prepared!
  • If you are home, try to have a quiet background (no dog barking, no children crying, no birds chirping, no squeaky doors).
  • Make sure you have researched the company you are interviewing for, look at LinkedIn and find out who the top people are, as well as, the person interviewing you (if you know who will be calling).
  • Have your resume in front of you, make notes or highlight the positions and skills most relevant to the position you are interviewing for, and most importantly, know the position you are interviewing for!
  • Have a copy of the job description in front of you, and again, highlight the skills that you are a perfect match for, so that you know what keywords to hit on during the call.
  • Be relaxed, but remember to take this call as seriously as an onsite interview with the CEO.
  • The person interviewing you will give his or her feedback to the manager, or possibly the CEO, depending on the job you are interviewing for.
  • Make sure it is all positive feedback.

 

Practice makes perfect

  • When you know you are going to have a phone interview, PRACTICE! Ask a friend or family member to interview you the night before the call.  Put together a list of questions you think the interviewer may ask and practice in front of the mirror.
  • If your recruiter is really on top of things, he or she will most likely have a list of questions the interviewer generally asks, so use this and jot down a few responses.
  • Even if your recruiter doesn’t know the specific questions, ask the recruiter what type of questions you should expect. This will help you, as well as the recruiter to really wow the interviewer.

 

Ask questions!

This is sometimes a “make or break” for interviewers.  You’ve done your research on the company, so you have an idea of what they do.  You know the position you are in consideration for.  Ask educated questions that make sense to what your role in the company will be.  Here are a few examples of questions you can ask the interviewer:

  1. Can you please give me an example of a client challenge that you have recently faced?
  2. Where do you see this company in the next year? The next five years? (A great question for start-up companies)
  3. Can I spend a few days/weeks working in your (whatever the ground floor department would be for this company) so that I may get a good sense of what the company does from A to Z?
  4. What is the one question you really want to ask me, but haven’t?
  5. What impact will I have on the team if I am hired?
  6. I noticed your social media presence has increased recently, has your strategy changed? (This shows you have done your research)
  7. What are the keys to making someone really successful in this position?

 

Must haves

  • You must have enthusiasm, patience, passion, confidence and a sense of humor!
  • Prior to the call, ask yourself what do you want to achieve?
  • What do you need to ask the interviewer?
  • Have your answers at the ready! Practice!
  • Picture the person you are speaking to as if they are right in front of you.
  • Remember to smile, watch the pace of your voice (you don’t want to sound like the Tasmanian Devil!), keep a nice, clear, even tone to your voice, and watch the volume of your voice.
  • Be sure you are in a quiet place while taking the call, sit in a comfortable chair, but watch your posture!
  • Don’t slump or lay down, as this will affect your voice.
  • Remember to listen!
  • Don’t interrupt your interviewer, listen to each question and wait for a moment before responding.

 

Do not ask questions about compensation

  • Please do not talk about compensation during your first interview.
  • The phone interview is about impressing the interviewer and showcasing how you would be an asset to the company.
  • It is okay to discuss the compensation you are receiving in your current position.
  • If they ask about your compensation, tell them you are open. Once you are offered a position, then you can negotiate or ask the agency presenting you to negotiate.

 

Until next time!

  • Before you hang up, be sure that your interviewer has all the information he or she needs.
  • Ask the interviewer if he or she has any additional questions for you. Remember to use the person’s name, and say THANK YOU!
  • If you have his or her email address, be sure to send a THANK YOU email (this really does go a long way!) and thank him or her for taking the time to speak to you regarding the position.
  • Be enthusiastic, genuine and remember that THANK YOU goes a long way!
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