10 Tips to Ace Your Phone Interview

By Allison Ausmus, Eide Bailly Recruiter 

Let’s face it, job hunting can be a daunting and draining process. You apply to a couple jobs and the one you really want reaches out to you to schedule a phone interview. Eek! Now what?

Companies often use phone interviews as a way to weed out candidates and leave the in-person interviews to those they feel are truly qualified for their open position. In other words, don’t take a phone interview lightly and prepare for it the same way you would for a face-to-face interview.

Here’s what you need to do to prepare and not be among the weeds:

  1. Learn more about the company, their history, mission statement and newest developments. Re-read the job description and prepare a well-thought out list of questions to ask.
  1. Prepare items like your resume and a “cheat sheet” with answers to anticipated questions (strengths, weaknesses, short and long-term goals, why you are looking for a new job, etc.). You’ll also need to be able to address any gaps in your work history. During a phone interview, the person can’t see you (obviously) so use this to your advantage. If you’re a paper person, print things out. Electronic more your style? Pull it up on your computer or smart phone. Just make sure you take time to prepare.
  1. Be prepared to make a case for yourself and point to different skills listed in the job description and how you fit each qualification. You can do this when the recruiter asks you what interested you in applying or when they ask about what your strengths are– make sure you are highlighting the strengths that best fit the job you applied for.
  1. Find a quiet space where you can talk freely. Home is ideal as long as it is a pet-free/child-free zone, devoid of distractions. If you do have a pet or child around, let the interviewer know at the beginning of the call that they might hear noises from kids/pet in the background.
  1. Allow plenty of time for the phone interview so you are not rushed.
  1. Not sure what we mean? Get a family member or friend and give them a list of interview questions to ask you. Then ask them for their feedback, paying attention to details like the speed you talked, if you kept saying “um” or “like” and if you sounded natural and confident.
  1. Smile when you talk! It might sound silly but it will make you sound more friendly and confident. Come on, just try it.
  1. Whatever you do, don’t interrupt your interviewer. If that happens, apologize and let them finish asking a question or talking. You don’t want to appear rude by interrupting your interviewer.
  1. Don’t be the one to bring up salary first. We know this can be an important aspect in your decision about a job. If the recruiter doesn’t bring it up, ask if they can provide the salary range for the position. Just be prepared for the possible result that they won’t give it. Some companies are more transparent than others with salary information.
  1. Ask questions. Just make sure they’re not ones the recruiter has already answered or addressed. And never forget to thank them for their time and ask about next steps in the process.

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