Telephone Interview Tips You Should Know
What is a telephone interview and what is its role in the hiring process? Many organizations call candidates who look good on paper to determine if those applicants are fit for an in-person interview. So while you’re searching for jobs, it is vital to be prepared for a telephone interview at a moment’s notice. Many organizations start the interview process with a call to discuss with a potential employee about the job opportunity, determine whether the candidate may be a good match, and access their interest in the position. In some cases, a telephone interview could be the only interview you will have.
Most times, your interview is going to be scheduled beforehand either by email or phone but in some cases, you’ll receive a surprise call asking if you’re available to talk about the job. You never know when a hiring manager might call and ask whether you’ve got a couple of minutes to discuss, so always answer the phone professionally, especially if the number is unfamiliar.
Why do hiring managers use telephone interviews?
Hiring managers use telephone interviews as a means of identifying and recruiting candidates for jobs. Phone interviews are used most times to screen candidates out and narrow the pool of applicants who are going to be invited for in-person interviews. This is common in big organizations. Instead of spending the time and resources needed to bring you for a face-to-face interview, they’ll want to ascertain if you will give them a reason to cross your name off the list.
A phone call is a relatively quick, low-effort way to determine whether a candidate is suitable or to quickly eliminate you as a candidate.
Most organizations will want to minimize the expense involved in interviewing out-of-town candidates or aren’t able to attend an in-person interview for whatever reason. For remote positions, a phone interview could also be the sole option.
Unique as telephone interviews, they’re still similar to other forms of interviews and should be taken just as seriously, if not more serious.
How to prepare for a telephone interview
Telephone interviews are as important as in-person interviews, so adequately preparing for them can have a huge impact on your success. Here are some things you should do while preparing for a telephone interview:
- Confirm the scheduled time
The day before your interview, confirm the date and time the hiring manager will call you. Make sure you write down the scheduled time, add it to your calendar, or set it as a reminder on your phone so that you don’t miss the scheduled interview. Your punctuality will definitely leave a good impression on your potential employer’s mind.
- Reschedule, if necessary
If you will be unavailable at the appointed time for the interview, consider suggesting giving a time of day that will be more convenient for you. Give your interviewer a couple of days and times that work well for you, then discuss a time you both find suitable. Make sure you let your interviewer know on the time that you will not be available for the telephone, instead of waiting till the day of the interview.
- Research the company
The odds are you’ve applied to more than one organization and it’s good to know a bit about who you’re talking to, from both a professional and a business standpoint.
Review the company’s website, social media to find out more about its values, goals, and company culture. Having knowledge of the organization you will be interviewing with will give you a good insight into what to say during the interview. So make note of specific details about the organization, and mention them should the chance
Treat it like all other interviews and prepare, prepare, prepare. Too many of us make the error of winging a phone interview thinking it’s not as important when actually they find themselves stumbling over their answers and messing up their chances.
Do some digging into the company. Browse their website, Google them to collect some recent news updates, read their employee testimonials on other sites, and scroll through their social media. Look for your prospective colleagues on LinkedIn but don’t go overboard.
You don’t want to only regurgitate the organization’s “About” page. Rather, find ways to tie the company’s values to your own and use that to showcase how you are a great fit. Double-check the job description you’re interviewing for.
The best part about doing this research is that it allows you to craft tailored interview answers and ask thoughtful questions once you start getting hit with those interview questions.
- Know who will be calling you
In most cases; you’ll be interviewed by a recruiter, hiring manager, or your direct manager. Do a thorough search to know your interviewer’s role at the organization. If you will be interviewed by a recruiter, you’ll get more general questions regarding your experience while an interview with your direct manager means you’ll get in-depth questions closely related to your industry and role.
- Look over the job description
If you understand the qualities a hiring manager is trying to find in a potential employee and what your responsibilities are going to be, you can tailor your answers to many interview questions.
- Be an active listener
Be attentive, ask insightful questions and interact with the hiring manager. This will show that you take the interview seriously and you genuinely care about what they want to say. So practicing with friends or family will be greatly beneficial. Make sure you’re taking note of every word, and follow up with questions that show you were actively taking note of what they were saying.
Don’t be the one that makes the interviewer repeat their questions again and again—that’s annoying for everybody Pay attention, practice active listening, and don’t multitask.
This is an interview which means you will be asked questions and it’s also an opportunity to show your potential employer that you’re good at listening too.
Talk, but don’t dominate the conversation. Let the interviewer lead the conversation.
Answer the questions, but don’t turn it into a 1 sided monologue because you are all getting to know yourself.
Ask a couple of follow-up questions but don’t flip the interview onto the interviewer.
Keep your answers honest, thoughtful, and reflective, and make sure you breathe and speak clearly.
Most importantly, smile, your tone of voice will reflect it.
- Be professional
It’s important to be respectful and thoughtful during your interview. This professional tone can leave a good impression on your interviewer, and he will remember that as he considers the hiring decision. Depending on whom you’re interviewing with, if you’re hired, he or she will even be your future colleague, so it’s important to be professional and eloquent in your tone and answers.
Even though you’ll be speaking over the phone, smiling during your interview can give a positive tone to your voice. Though your interviewer won’t see your smile, they’ll hear it. Practices smiling as you speak with family or friends.
- Consider your salary expectations
Many employers ask about your salary expectations, this question comes up, especially if the phone interview is an initial screening call with HR. So you’ll want to have a sensible answer ready. Research the typical salary in your industry when considering what you’d want to get paid, but be reasonable. It’s also good to give them a salary range.
- Charge your phone
If you’re using your telephone for the interview, confirm it’s fully charged and in working condition the day of your interview. Try a test call by having someone call you to make sure your phone can properly accept calls.
Also, you should make sure your telephone has a full battery because no one wants a dropped call. In addition, an hour before your interview starts, make sure it’s working properly and the signal is OK by calling a friend or loved one and asking if they hear you clearly.
- Have your resume and portfolio ready
It’s possible the interviewer will want to ask you questions associated with your resume or portfolio. Make sure you’ve got all the required documents for reference. You can print them out or have them open on your laptop.
- Gather your materials
This can consist of:
A notepad and pen/pencil or a laptop
A water bottle
A toy to help you concentrate
- Prepare your notes and create a cheat sheet
If there are specific things you want to say during your interviews, like your job duties at a previous job or your qualifications and the way they meet the job description, make note of it as you go through your resume or portfolio. Make sure your notes are clear and legible so you’ll readily access them if need be. All this information should not just sit in your brain. The great thing about phone interviews is that you can have notes in front of you without the interviewer knowing. And we frequently freeze up when we’re nervous, so why put ourselves in the position of forgetting everything.
Take the research you did, the answers you prepared, and the questions you have and jot them down into a notebook or in a one-page document and stick to bullet points. Try not to read your answers like a script because it will make you sound inauthentic and make the interview stressful.
- Consider possible interview questions
Research common interview questions so you have an idea of what you would possibly be expected to answer. Many interview questions fall under these categories—adaptability, leadership, collaboration, culture fit, prioritization, and development. Determining the questions they might ask will help you gain confidence and reviewing highly anticipated questions will ease any nerves going into the interview.
- Prepare your answers to common interview questions
After searching for common interview questions, think about how you’ll answer each. Write your answers down, highlight specific experiences you’ll draw on to demonstrate your answer. Rehearse your answers for more practice and compile 2 to 3 questions to ask the interviewer at the very end.
But preparing for a phone interview isn’t about tailoring answers to predictable questions you’ll be asked. It’s also about knowing the way to convey those answers over the phone. So if you would like to make sure you’re making the right impression, phone a loved one and have them hear your responses and provide feedback.
- Speak clearly
Carefully articulate your words and take some time as you answer each question. Interviewers will try to understand you and observe your communication skills. This skill is vital in any industry, so demonstrating your excellent communication skills during the interview process can help your interviewer determine your abilities.
Self-awareness is vital when you’re talking on the phone. With only your voice to make a positive impact, you would have to be sure everything you’re saying is obvious and concise, so catch yourself once you start to ramble.
- Be conversational and have impeccable manners
Maintain a friendly yet professional tone instead of sounding rehearsed. Practice your answers to the interview questions you have gathered with friends or loved ones or record yourself talking. Ask your family or friends for feedback with regard to your voice tone, language, and speaking speed. In the same manner, playback your recording, and determine how you’ll During your interview, be polite and ready to interact in chit-chat to warm up. As it’s common to exchange pleasantries, so you’ll consider preparing something topical like the weather, upcoming events, etc. to talk about.
Feel free to ask them how their day’s going, mention the weather or your weekend, or try a conversation starter if it seems natural—just keep it brief and business appropriate.
Also, if some sort of interruption or background noise occurs, apologize and address it—better to pause than to continue while the interviewer is straining on the opposite end trying to understand what you’re saying. If noise is unavoidable, mute yourself when you’re not speaking.
- Take notes and jot down important points
Taking notes during the interview will help you remember important matters the interviewer discussed. This can be useful when you want to reference salaries, job responsibilities, or any relevant company information you’ll have discussed with the interviewer.
Take a moment or two after you hang up to jot any last notes you would like to recollect. You won’t regret having those in writing when you want to write thanks note or walk into a subsequent round of interviews.
- Dress professionally
Even though you’ll be discussing over the phone, try dressing as if you were having an in-person interview. This, alongside sitting up tall, can help improve your confidence during the interview, so resist the urge to wear sweatpants/ pajamas or slouch on the couch and choose an outfit that’s comfortable enough and makes you look professional.
- Find a quiet, comfortable, and convenient environment
Find a quiet space where you’ll be able to hear the interviewer loud and clear and you get all of the information you would need.
Turn off the TV or music, and shut the door to the space you’re using for your interview. Minimize any background noise and interview in a quiet space to demonstrate your professional courtesy and let your interviewer know you’re taking this interview
At home, this might mean locking yourself in a room that’s far away from family, roommates, or pets. At work, this might mean booking yourself a conference room, finding a cafe nearby, or settling for your car or a quiet street.
- Set a professional voicemail message
Ideally, you need to pick up the phone when the interviewer calls. But just in case you can’t for whatever reason answer the phone once they call, you want to leave a good impression offline by having a professional and friendly voice mail message.
- Prepare questions you want to ask
Hiring managers need to know that you’re curious about the position you’re applying for. Display your interest by asking insightful questions when you have the opportunity to do so in the interview. Some questions you could ask include:
What are my daily responsibilities?
• What is the workplace like?
• What is your favorite part of working for the organization?
- Ask about the next steps
When you ask your interviewer about the next steps in the interview process; it is a good way to express your continued interest in the job and the organization. While some hiring managers may be ready to offer you the job, others would want you to come in for an in-person interview as they narrow down their candidate search.
- Lean into the pauses
With technology and not seeing someone face-to-face come to all kinds of awkward social moments—delayed or overlapping responses being one among So don’t be scared of moments of silence—it’s okay to let the conversation breathe.
When your interviewer asks a question, wait a bit before answering them to make sure they’re finished speaking. If you can’t hear them, politely asks them to repeat the question just to be sure you understood what they said.
And if they interrupt you, stop talking and allow them to finish before speaking again. If they’re doing this, either they’re handling technical difficulties or they need to refocus the conversation. You have to transition with them so everything you say is clearly heard and understood.
- Send a thank-you email or note
Immediately, you are through with your phone interview, send your interviewer a thank-you email. Make sure to thank them for their time, including a couple of relevant details you discussed, highlight conversation topics that stuck out to you, and express your continued interest in them. It’s important to ensure you not only end your call on a positive note but follow up soon after your call with a thankful email after your interview. If there’s something you forgot to say or you’d like them to elaborate on a particular topic, this is an excellent opportunity to ask.
Let the interviewer know you appreciated them taking the time to speak with you which you enjoyed and re-emphasize your passion for the role and company in the process.
It will make you stand out and reinforce that you’re truly excited about the position. Above all remember that the main target here is on how you add value to the organization, not just what your past experiences are and what you’re good at. So keep it short and sweet.
- Follow up if you don’t hear back from them
If you don’t hear back from the interviewer in a week or so, don’t hesitate to follow up to see where they are in the hiring process. It’s possible they may still be conducting interviews for other candidates, and they may not have any updates for you but in the event, they’re not interviewing anyone, it’ll make you know where you stand as they narrow down their candidate selection.
So in summary, as the interview comes to an end, ensure you thank the interviewer:
• Get the interviewer’s email address if you don’t already have it.
• Try and send out an email thank-you note immediately, thanking the interviewer and reiterating your interest in the job.
• You can also use your thank-you note as a way to provide information on anything regarding your qualifications that you didn’t get a chance to discuss during the phone interview.
When the interview is over, carefully review any notes you took during the conversation. Make sure you jot down the question you were asked, how you responded, and any follow-up questions you’ll have if you’ve got a chance for an in-person interview or even a job offer.