How to Ace Your Next Phone Interview

Phone Interview TipsIf an employer asks you to do a phone interview, or “screening,” then you’ve successfully made it to the second round of the application process (congrats – your job search is bearing fruit!).

But what next?

Follow these 5 tips to get yourself one step closer to a formal job offer.

1. Research the Hiring Company

If you didn’t research the employer before submitting your application — which you should have — now is the time. Jump on the company’s website and scan key pages like About, Products, Press, and Team. If they company has a blog, look through its recent posts. Finally, do an Internet search to find out what external sources are saying.

By the end of your research you should have a good understanding of the company’s culture, mission, products/services, and recent developments. Use this information to tailor your answers accordingly.

2. Research the Hiring Manager

If you don’t know already, ask for the name and email address of the person conducting the phone interview. Find them on the company’s team page and on sites like LinkedIn.

Try to gain insight into who the hiring manager is, what he values, and what you have in common. In today’s connected world you might even find a mutual connection who will reach out to the employer on your behalf. (“Hey, I just talked to So and So and found out she’s applying to your company. I just wanted to let you know how great she is.”)

Feel a little creepy going through the hiring manager’s profiles? Don’t. Chances are good that he is doing it to you.

3. Revisit the Job Description

The job posting tells you exactly what the company is looking for, so use it to demonstrate how you’re an ideal candidate for the job. Make notes on how your skills and personality match the open position. If the employer is emphasizing that they want a team player, for example, brainstorm concrete examples of times you collaborated to achieve success. If there is a particular area that you’re lacking, be prepared to talk about and compensate for it.

4. Be Confident (Or Sound Like You Are)

Being nervous is normal. Sounding nervous is awkward. Be cognizant of your volume, tone, and speed.  When you feel inclined, walk around, gesture, and smile. Natural movements like these help you relax and sound more genuine. Remember that the interviewer can’t see you, so you can wear whatever you want and can do the interview wherever you want.

5. Send a Thank You Email

The final thing to do is send a thank you email to the interviewer. Do it the same day and keep it short and sweet. Thank the hiring manager for his time, mention a high point in the conversation (“I really enjoyed discussing the department’s plan for…”), and say that you look forward to hearing back.

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Posted in Job Search Strategy
  • lynda

    Write down your questions ahead of time!! Yes. you should have questions. Plenty of them. Nothing worse than a candidate saying ” no, I don’t have any questions, I think you have answered them all” Silly. If they ask you to call back with further questions you may have….them by all means do so!!
    Do not talk money…unless asked…ever!
    Let the conversation flow and don’t be so rigid in your answers.
    Have some what of a sense of humor when appropriate. Nobody likes a stick in the mud
    Speak up and take the word “yeah” and “uh- um” ” sure” out of your vocabulary!( I can not tell you how many people I have not called back because they can not carry on a conversation. If you are nervous…admit it upfront with a hint of humor. ” Sorry, I seem a little nervous..———–” The interviewer will understand.
    I like some of the suggestions above: Research the company( know what they do or make)
    I do not agree you should have someone speak on your behalf …unless asked to do so until AFTER the interview..to much expectation may be inadvertently given
    You can research Hiring Managers if you get past Human Resources…on LinkedIn perhaps. More than likely you will not even know who that is.
    Send a Thank you note in writing!!!!! Not by email
    Send an email to follow up 3-5 days later.
    If it is NOT the position for you….thank them ( in writing) and say so and keep an open dialogue…another position may open at that company that is better suited to you later on…they will remember you by your exit behavior as well as the interview…which I assure they are writing down..
    Send only references you have given a heads up to before doing so. The best references are : A Supervisor: a Colleague: a subordinate ( if there was one) It gives you a very rounded profile.

    Good Luck!!!! Happy Job Hunting!!!

  • Rachel Dotson

    These are excellent tips, Lynda! I’ve never thought about your second to last point — keeping an open dialogue when the position is not for you — but it’s such a great point. Our readers are lucky to have your comments and expertise.

    Thanks for sharing!