8 Tips For A Successful Phone Interview

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As the world becomes increasingly connected, so do methods of communication. While many organizations still conduct face-to-face interviews, many of them use phone interviews to screen out potential candidates before moving them forward to the final round of in-person interviews. There are also some companies that have completely foregone in-person interviews and have hired people after a phone call.

Here at Vanderbloemen, we conduct pre-interview phone calls as a prelude to face-to-face interviews. We go through many phone calls every year: many good, and a few not-so-good. Phone calls are now an important step in making a great first impression, so use these effective tips to set yourself up for success.

1. Check your phone reception.

Before getting on a phone interview, make sure you’re in an area where you have excellent phone reception. We’ve all experienced the frustrations of dropped calls or delayed responses. It is unfair to you or the interviewer for connection issues to be the spotlight of the call. If possible, always use a landline. We understand those are decreasing in this day and age, but if you have an option to, use it!

2. Be on time.

If you aren’t ready to pick up the phone at the prearranged interview time, this will show as a red flag to interviewers. This conveys the idea that you are disorganized and cannot keep to a schedule, which may not be true at all. Try to be ready 10 minutes before and after the scheduled call time, which will show that you’re prepared for any extenuating circumstances.

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3. Respect the interviewer's time.

While you want to make sure to keep the phone call conversational and present yourself in the best possible way, it is possible to come across as “too friendly” by extending the conversation beyond the scheduled time.  Understand the interviewer may have scheduled another call, and be respectful of his or her time.

4. Be professional. 

Even though a phone call may seem more casual than a formal interview, it is still important for the candidate to be in a professional mindset. Set yourself up in an office, get dressed up, or anything else that creates a professional mindset.

5. Minimize distractions. 

You’d be surprised at how often we hear various noises in the background when we call candidates. Find a quiet place where you can hold a phone conversation with minimal distractions - whether it’s a room with the door closed or sitting in a parked car. As long as you are free from any potential interruptions, possible distractions can easily be avoided.

6. Communicate any potential interruptions.

Sometimes life happens and it’s impossible to be in a place with no distractions. Simply let the interviewer know early on in the conversation about potential interruptions and check to with him or her if that’s okay. If not, ask if it’s possible to reschedule at another time. If there is an emergency, at least send an email before the scheduled call to inform the caller. These basic communication steps go a long way in showing your thoughtfulness and interpersonal skills as a candidate. 

7. Ask the right questions.

A pre-interview phone call is often a way for potential employers to get to know you better and check out some things that can’t be seen in a resume. Think of it as a “first date” or opportunity to get to know you better as a candidate.

Asking the right questions will give you insight into the job and the organization. Avoid diving into anything too deep, and be sure to research the organization and job description beforehand. If there is information you could’ve found simply by visiting the organization’s website, you’ve wasted valuable time that could have been spent on other questions.

8. Keep food in the kitchen.  

Avoid eating during a phone interview at all costs. While this may seem like basic etiquette to many people, it’s worth mentioning for the sake of future phone interviews. You wouldn’t bring your lunch to a face-to-face interview, so you also should not eat during a phone call.

A little goes a long way in phone conversations to stand out as a candidate, and hopefully these tips help you make a fantastic first impression and send you into the next steps of a search process.

What are some helpful tips that you’ve learned through phone interviews?

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