Congratulations on receiving a screening phone interview! This is often the first step in the interview process and is a way for employers to quickly and efficiently determine if their chosen candidates should be interviewed more extensively.
Your personality and working style will come through during this screening interview, giving the employer a sense of your communication and collaboration skills. Depending on how well you do in this interview, the employer may invite you to a more thorough in-person interview.
Here are 10 tips to help you succeed at a phone interview and move on to the next round.
Before the Phone Interview
1. Do your Research
In the interview, you will likely be asked why the role and the company are of interest to you. Be ready with your answer by doing the following:
- Research the company’s mission statement, business goals and products or services.
- Read reviews on Glass Door to learn more about the work culture of the organization.
- Refer to the company’s LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages to learn about the organization’s latest news and projects.
- Set up an informational interview (if possible) with someone at the company so that you can hear an employee’s first-hand experience.
2. Prepare a ‘Cheat Sheet’
One advantage of a phone interview is that you can have a ‘cheat sheet’ of answers in front of you throughout the interview. Write down the key points that you’d like to make about why you are a good candidate for this role. These written reminders will help keep you focused during the interview. Also make sure that you have the resume you submitted in front of you as the interviewer likely will.
3. Find a Quiet Space and Time
Book an interview time when you won’t be rushed and schedule time both before and after the call to prepare and collect your thoughts. Also make sure that you are in a quiet space during the interview, not a noisy public place such as in a store, on public transit or even walking along a busy street. Background noise can be distracting to both you and the interviewer; quiet space creates the right environment for a successful phone interview.
4. Have a Valid Phone Number with Voicemail
While most phone interviews are scheduled in advance, some employers will call without notice. As soon as you send your resume, ensure that your voicemail is ready to take messages in a professional manner. Your outgoing voicemail message is a reflection of you as a working professional and will make an impression on the employer.
5. Make it Personal
If possible, learn a little about the person conducting the interview by visiting their LinkedIn profile before the scheduled call. This helps you tailor your answers depending on their role within the company. For example, if you will be speaking to an HR professional about an IT position, you will want your answers to be more about your working style and collaboration abilities rather than your technical expertise. Also, seeing the interview’s profile picture will help make for a more personal and friendly conversation.
During the Interview
The tone of your voice changes when you smile; when you answer the phone for your interview, smile as if you’re greeting someone in person. A warm ‘hello’ helps to build rapport with the person you are speaking with, which will help you to assert your strengths and skills later in the conversation.
7. Be Attentive to Speaking Style
Be attentive to the other person’s communication style and listen for verbal cues to avoid cutting them off or leaving long awkward pauses. Do your part and use verbal cues to note when you’ve finished answering a question. For example, sum up your response by referring back to the original question to let the person know that you’ve finished speaking.
8. Always be in the Moment
Your mind needs to stay 100% focused on the interview so avoid distractions. Ask family members or roommates not to interrupt, close your email and other apps with notifications and only have in front of you what you need for the interview.
9. Ask about Next Steps
At the end of the interview, ask about the next steps in the recruitment process, such as follow-up interviews and details about the hiring process. These answers will give you a general idea of the company’s hiring timeline and what you should expect in the coming days or weeks.
After the Interview
10. Follow up with a ‘Thank-you’ Email
Take a moment to send a brief email to the interviewer, if possible, thanking them for taking the time to speak with you. Refer to something you spoke about in the interview to remind them of your conversation. Employers could be interviewing many candidates — a reminder as to who you are and why you are great for the role helps to keep you top of mind.