Phoning it in: how to give a great phone interview
So, you’ve passed the initial CV stage – next up is that all-important phone or Skype interview. Even if it’s just ten or fifteen minutes, what you say and how you project yourself over the phone determines whether you get to the next level. How should you prepare for that initial conversation? We give you some insider tips on how to ace your next phone interview.
Before your phone interview…
Prepping for a phone interview is much the same as for a face-to-face meeting, but with the benefit of having your notes and space laid out in front of you.
Research, research, research
Be prepared for questions asking what you know about the company. Stumbling on this question will expose your lack of planning, so gather your facts and figures ahead of time to show your commitment to the role.
Sharpen your phone voice
Practice doing mock phone interviews with friends, family or a coach. They’ll be able to spot any areas for improvement, particularly with verbal stumbles such as speaking too fast or slow, not enunciating properly, stuttering, or ‘filler’s such as ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’. Clear and confident articulation over the phone will get you closer to a face-to-face interview.
Prepare your own questions
Having your own list of questions at the ready will show your level of interest about the role and enthusiasm to prove your potential. Don’t overwhelm the interviewer with a barrage of questions – and, equally, don’t just say you’ve got no questions.
You can acknowledge that the interviewer has covered all the bases and answered your questions, but go one step further to show this. Think about the company’s current circumstances, the projects they’re working on, potential challenges ahead; take notes during your interview and draw on anything that piques your interest.
Create your interview ‘dojo’
The downside of phone interviews is the lack of ready interview or meeting rooms to dive into. Make sure that any pets, family or flatmates are kept at a distance, as any interruptions can throw you off track. Also, turn off your TV or radio while you’re speaking on the phone. If you’re on a laptop or tablet, switch off noisy notifications and, if possible, switch your Do Not Disturb setting on only once the call is connected.
During the interview…
Have your CV in front of you
You’ll likely be asked to talk through your experience and career. What the interviewer can’t see won’t hurt them, so while the phone interview is taking place, have your CV in front of you to refer to anything that relates to the job you’re interviewing for. It can also serve as a gentle reminder of your credentials including qualifications and timescales of employment.
Remember your phone etiquette
Keep food, gum and drinks away (slurping noises over the phone are off-putting). Listen carefully, take your time to respond, and only jump in during gaps in the conversation – and bear in mind that calling via Skype or Google can lag behind by a few seconds.
Whether you’re on the phone or Skype, don’t be shy about taking notes – making that clear lets the interviewer know that you’re listening and paying attention, and you may need those notes for your face-to-face meeting.
When speaking, be clear, concise and articulate. If you smile, you’ll actually sound more pleasant and personable. Only use the interviewer’s first name if they allow you to.
After the interview…
Follow up the call
When the interview is coming to a close, thank the interviewer for the call, and for taking the time to speak to you.
After a couple of days, you can then follow up with an email. This isn’t to chase them up, but to thank the interviewer for their time, that you’re still interested in the role, and that you look forward to speaking with them again soon. Make sure you know what their timeframes are for making a decision… and in the meantime, good luck!