How To Prepare For A Phone Interview

If you’re like most people, you either (a) hate phone interviews or (b) don’t take it as seriously as a face-to-face interview. The truth is that phone interviews are incredibly important, because without doing well there, you’ll never get the chance to interview in person. With the right preparation, you can learn to hate them a little less and practically guarantee yourself the invitation to interview on-site. Related: How To Ace A Phone Interview


Follow these 7 phone interview prep tips to ace any phone interview:

1. Set up your call at a good time for you.

You often have choices about when to schedule your call. It only makes sense to schedule it when you’re most alert—if you’re a morning person, schedule it early. If it takes you a good few hours to become your best, schedule it for the afternoon. If they call you and it isn’t a good time for you, let them know that it isn’t the best time (no need to tell them why) and ask to reschedule. Just don’t wait too long to make that happen. Hint: Make sure that when you do set it up, you leave yourself a cushion of time after the call, in case it goes especially well and runs long. Some phone interviews stick with a time limit of 10-15 minutes, but others go 30-45 minutes or longer.

2. Pick a quiet spot to talk.

There’s nothing like being on the phone in a noisy public place to signal that you aren’t taking this call seriously. Instead, do the interview at home, in a room by yourself. You want no distractions.

3. If you can, use a landline.

Bad reception can ruin your call. I say play it safe and use a landline.

4. Research the company.

Some job seekers think phone interviews are basic information sessions, but you’ll make a much stronger impression if you already know everything you can about the company before your call. You’ll ask better questions and give more impressive answers to their questions.

5. Dress for the interview.

It’s easy to be tempted to stay in your pajamas for this call, but it’s better to wear work clothes. Our clothes do affect how we behave, and you need to be all business.

6. Make sure you’re physically comfortable and relaxed.

Eat, drink, take a bathroom break, and take a few moments to breathe and relax before your call.

7. Prepare ‘cheat sheets.’

Since they can’t see you, this is the perfect opportunity to have out in front of you a printed out resume, notes on the company, questions you want to ask, and words and phrases you want to use in your phone interview answers. This is one of the few advantages of a phone interview, so make the most of it. Just spread them out in front of you so they can’t hear you shuffling papers. Make sure you also have blank paper with a pen to take notes. It’s important to do as much pre-interview prep as you can. You will never get another chance to make a first impression with this company. How you do now will affect whether or not you get the face-to-face interview, and it can bias them to like you even more before you set one foot on site. For more phone interview tips, please visit my Phone Interview Tips series on my blog, and also see my 5 Phone Interview Questions You Will Be Asked. There, you can download my free phone interview prep podcast.

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About the author

Career Coach - Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Bigstock

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