Companies use phone interviews for a variety of reasons. It could be to determine whether you have the skill set they’re looking for (your resume may not have been clear enough); it may be to assess your verbal communication skills, particularly if they are needed on the phone; it could be an easier, more effective and cost efficient way for them to start the interview process; and it could be to verify salary information to have a sense of whether you’re in their salary range. So how do you prepare for a phone interview?
Keep in mind this is an interview, the only difference is it’s being conducted on the phone rather than in person. It’s important for you to be as focused, engaged and prepared as you would if this were being held in the company’s offices. The phone interview could last from 10-60 minutes, depending on the purpose, company and interviewer.
A great tip is to keep a copy of the job description, company information which you’ve researched and a copy of the resume you sent for that specific position in a file that’s easily accessible when you get a phone call. Some companies will call to schedule a time in the future for the phone interview, and some will call hoping you’re available then. If you’re caught off guard and would like a couple of minutes to gather your file, review the information and breathe to get focused, ask the person if you can call back in five minutes as you’re in the middle of something you need to finish. Most will call you back or schedule a specific time. They know they’re taking a chance of finding you available when they call if it’s not been scheduled previously.
A phone interview is really no different than the in-person except it’s over the phone. You are going to be answering questions about your knowledge, skills and abilities and likely covering information on your resume. Since you periodically review your resume and know the information on it, you’ll be able to answer questions without difficulty. If you don’t understand the question or are unsure what the person means, ask for clarification as you would if you were face-to-face. You may be asked what you know about the company and if you have any questions, so it may be helpful to keep your list of questions in your folder with the job description, company info and resume copy.
One of the most challenging aspects in the phone interview can be the actual phone connection. Many people today use cell phones and think it’s fine to conduct business calls wherever they are. Think twice about conducting a phone interview while you’re driving, getting gas, paying for parking, talking with the landscaper, feeding the bird or walking around your house. If the connection is bad and you or the interviewer have to repeat a lot, you’re losing valuable time when you could be communicating substantive information and the interviewer may have limited time.
If interviewing and getting a new position are important to you, think about how professional and prepared you appear in the phone interview. If you’ve had an issue with plumbing and the plumber is on the way, it may be best to reschedule. You wouldn’t bring the plumber, your kids or the bird with you to the company’s office for an interview, don’t “bring them with you” on the phone interview. If you don’t have great cell reception wherever you plan to take the call, then access a landline for the phone interview or schedule for a time when you can use a landline.
Some people conduct their phone interview from their current place of employment. Not a problem, unless you have to put the interviewer on hold to answer other phone calls or questions from your boss and co-workers.
Plan to be totally available to the interviewer with no distractions or interruptions and a great connection. Have quick access to the job description, company info and your resume and be ready to talk about your accomplishments and your phone interview should go well.