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Top tips to help master your next phone interview

Follow these steps and you’ll be ready to excel in your next phone interview.

April 15, 2020

A man on a phone interview sits at his computer

We've previously shared our insights into interview preparation and the different types of interview, one of which is the phone interview. This critical conversation is often used by companies to narrow down their list of preferred candidates, helping them to determine who will make it to the next round.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to make it to the next step? Follow these steps and you'll be ready to excel in your next phone interview.

1. Do your research

Whether you are interviewing in person or on the phone, the preparation you take should be the same.

Do your research on the company – look at their website, social media profile, and job description carefully. Does the position align to your skills, goals and interests? Do your values align with the company values and mission?

Find out who will be conducting the phone interview and find out more about their background by looking them up on LinkedIn. What projects have they worked on; do you have anything in common? Commonalities between you and the interview can make for great ice-breakers.

Remember, this is your opportunity to make a great first impression.

2. Know your own history

Think about your past experience and how it aligns to the position you have applied for. Make sure you are comfortable discussing how your skills will support the requirements of the role and have examples prepared of your previous successes to further demonstrate your experiences.

3. Be prepared

While every interview is different, there are several questions that will typically appear such as, 'What are your strengths and weaknesses?' 'What is your ideal work environment?' 'What are your short and long term goals?'. Clearly articulate your answers and try to avoid filler words such as 'like' and 'you know'. Ask a family member or friend to help role play any questions you are not comfortable with.

4. Note it down

Prepare notes with answers to the likely questions and list the key facts of your background and experience that you want to highlight. As the interviewer can't see you, you can comfortably refer to your notes without them being aware. Take advantage of this, and make sure you have them written out clearly and nearby.

Use the STAR method to answer questions–outline the situation or task, describe the action you took, and share the results on your involvement.

5. Dress to impress

Just because the interviewer can't see you, doesn't mean you shouldn't still dress like they can. How you dress for a phone interview can influence your mindset. Make sure your attire is something you are comfortable wearing, but that will also give you confidence and help you be present yourself professionally.

6. Prepare your space

There is nothing worse during a phone interview than being interrupted by a barking dog or unexpected noise. Before the interview make sure you find a quiet spot which minimises the possibility of noise or unexpected interruption. Be ready for the call at least five to ten minutes early, and make sure your phone is fully charged. Consider using a headset so you have your hands free during the call.

Don't forget to have your notes, CV and a pen in front of you as well.

7. Share your passion

Companies want to hire people who are enthusiastic about their work and the company. Let the interviewer know why you are excited about the opportunity. Don't be afraid to let your passion shine through.

8. Be curious

While the interviewer is getting to know you, this is also an opportunity for you to find out more about the role and the company. Make sure you prepare some questions in advance about the job requirements, how the team functions and what the management style is like. Sample questions could include 'What does success in this role look like?', 'How would you describe the company culture?'. You can also ask if there is anything in your application which might prevent you from being a good fit for the role. This then gives you the opportunity to directly address any concerns the interviewer may have.

9. Show your authentic self

Be honest about who you are and the skills you have to offer; don't just tell the interviewer what you think they want to hear. While being honest could mean missing out on a particular job, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Taking a job you dislike could damage your professional and personal growth in the long run. Stay true to yourself and what you want in your career.

10. Confirm what happens next

Make sure you thank the interviewer for their time and let them know you enjoyed the conversation. This is the moment to ask about next steps. Where are they in the interview process? What is their timeframe for hiring someone? Are they speaking with other candidates? Do they need any additional information from you? These questions will provide you with some insights on the process and indicate to the interviewer that you are serious about this job.

As a final touch, follow up with a thank-you email as well. It's the next best thing to an in-person handshake — and its impact lasts much longer.