June 1, 2018
Nowadays, it is increasingly rare that you will be invited to interview face-to-face right off the bat. Instead, companies will often request that you first participate in a phone interview with a recruiter or hiring manager. There are many benefits of phone interviews for both the company and the applicant, the biggest one being time. Hiring managers have tight schedules and can’t afford to interview every candidate, so a phone interview is a great way to screen potential interviewees. For the applicant, this is a crucial step that will determine whether you get the next interview and move on in the hiring process, so it’s important to polish up your phone skills.
Communication is Key
Unlike a typical interview, your body language or appearance aren’t factors; it is only your voice and what you say. That means you’ll need to rely on your communication skills to convince the hiring manager to invite you back for a second interview. Ashley, a hiring expert from Cardinal Health, explains, “typically, recruiters are gauging your communication skills and using this time to learn about your experience and if it aligns with the needs for the position. During a phone interview, it is key to come across polished and professional. You should also be able to verbalize anything on your resume and demonstrate that you have the skills to fulfill the job requirements.”1 It doesn’t hurt to practice what you want to say beforehand, though make sure you aren’t reading from a script.
While phone interviews present unique challenges, they also provide unique opportunities. You have the ability to use different resources than are available during a face-to-face interview, so make sure you are taking advantage of these! Charlene, a hiring expert from Gap, suggests you should “prepare a ‘cheat’ sheet with the things that you want to ensure the interviewer knows about you before hanging up. Write a few things that are not on your resume or reasons you know you are right for the job. Some things to consider are work ethic, determination, perseverance, or time management skills. Next to each one, put down a specific example as to how you demonstrate it.”2 Having some things to reference will help you if you get nervous or lose your train of thought. They can also help you ensure you don’t forget any important points or questions.
Have an “Interview” Mentality
It may be tempting to lounge on your sofa in your pajamas during your phone interview; after all, they can’t see what you’re wearing. Even so, this may affect your performance, and dressing casually may lead to you speaking casually. Traci, a hiring expert from Accenture, says, “When thinking about a phone interview, think of it the same way you would think of and prepare for an interview face-to-face. Again, it is still very much an interview and a first impression! Most phone interviews are about learning about each other and determining fit.”3 You don’t have to put on a full suit, but get ready with the same mindset you would going into an in-person interview.
Phone interviews can feel a bit awkward at first, but with a little practice you’ll be wowing hiring managers and getting calls to come in for a face-to-face interview in no time!