If anything, phone interviews can be even more nerve-wracking than face-to-face interviews because you don’t have many of the in-person tools available, such as body language and a firm handshake. But when a potential employer requests a phone interview — often a preliminary measure – you’ll have to prepare adequately. Following are tips on how to prepare for a phone interview.
Prepare for a Phone Interview: Set the Time
If at all possible, it is always better if you set the time and date rather than asking the interviewer to contact you at his or her convenience. Simply state that you would like to set a specific time so that you can be sure that you are available to talk, and usually the interviewer will agree. This gives you an opportunity to make sure that you have all of the necessary materials and to discourage any interruptions from family members. If, however, the interviewer insists that he or she must call between a large window of time — for example, between noon and five o’clock — you’ll have to decide how you want to plan your day around the eventual call.
Prepare for a Phone Interview: Choose the Best Spot
Be smart about deciding where you want to conduct your phone interview. In the kitchen while your children have arts and crafts time at the breakfast table probably won’t work very well, so be sure you have a phone in a quiet, relaxing environment. If you have a home office, try to be in there when the interviewer calls, and make sure that you’ve informed other people in the house that you aren’t to be disturbed.
Prepare for a Phone Interview: Gather Materials
Just because you are on the phone doesn’t mean you won’t need supplies at your fingertips. Have a blank pad of paper and a pen handy so that you can take notes and a copy of your resume in front of you. If it makes you feel better, you can also jot down answers to potential questions so you’re prepared for whatever the interviewer decides to ask. You might also want to have a glass of ice water or another drink handy so your mouth and throat don’t get dry from talking or nervousness.
Prepare for a Phone Interview: Answer the Phone
If the interviewer will be calling your home line — to which your children and spouse also have access — make sure that they know you want to answer the phone. Your two-year-old might love greeting people over the telephone, but it doesn’t project a professional first impression, so be sure you’re the one to take the call. You should also set the interview time for a portion of the day when you aren’t likely to be running around and out of breath.
Prepare for a Phone Interview: Dress for the Occasion
Often, our demeanor and character on the phone is influenced by how professional we feel. To get yourself into the right mindset, try not to conduct your phone interview wearing a bathrobe and slippers. Instead, raid your closet for your most professional attire and dress for the interview as though you were having it in person.
Prepare for a Phone Interview: Utilize Active Listening
Since you don’t have the benefit of an in-person interview, your professionalism and skills must be communicated via your voice, inflection and words. Use active listening techniques by repeating back questions you are asked and referencing earlier points in the call throughout the interview. Get the interviewer’s name, job title and phone number before you begin to show that you are interested.
Prepare for a Phone Interview: Lead to an In-Person Interview
A phone interview is usually a preliminary gesture and will lead to an in-person interview if make the final “cut”. Give the interviewer a reason to want to meet you in person, which will increase your chances of getting in the door. For example, if the interviewer asks you a complicated question toward the end of the interview, say, “Actually, I was hoping to discuss that with you at your office. I’ve got some great ideas, but I think I could explain it better in person.” This not only shows your interest in the position, but will also pique the interviewer’s curiosity if done correctly.