Many employers use phone interviews to screen candidates before asking their top choices to interview in person. While a phone interview might feel less formal than an in-person interview, preparing thoroughly at this stage will help you land that second interview – and help you succeed in both.
Here are eight tips to prepare for an outstanding phone interview:
Make a cheat sheet
Phone interviews let you review notes in a way in-person interviews don’t. Take advantage of this fact by creating a one-page “cheat sheet.” List your major strengths and weaknesses, your top one or two accomplishments and answers to common phone interview questions.
Research the company
If you have time before the phone interview, research the company and add your notes to your cheat sheet. If not, pull up the company’s website while you’re on the phone so you can browse and ask questions.
Prepare your space
Create a location where you won’t be disturbed by family, visitors or loud noises during the phone interview. You may even want to put a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on the door to remind others you need to focus.
Use a land line if possible
Avoid the interruption of a dropped cell signal by using a land line for your phone interview, if you can. On any phone, make sure the battery is fully charged for your interview.
Dress for success
Even though your interviewer won’t see your outfit, dressing professionally will help you feel more professional, which will come through in your answers and tone of voice.
Practice for the phone
Practice speaking a bit more slowly than usual, pronouncing words clearly. Avoid chewing or smoking while you’re on the phone, but keep a glass of water nearby in case you need it.
Like dressing professionally, smiling comes through in your tone of voice on the phone, helping your performance even though the interviewer cannot see you. Some people also find standing or walking as they speak helps them answer questions with more energy.
Remember your goal
It’s easy to think of a phone interview as being a friendly chat, but it has more in common with a business call. Your goal is to land an in-person interview, so remember to thank the interviewer at the end and ask if you can meet in person. Keep your calendar nearby so you can schedule an in-person interview if the interviewer offers you one.
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