When you’re searching for a new job, chances are you’ll be asked to take part in a phone interview at some point. It might be one that’s scheduled, so you can plan for it. Or it might be impromptu, when they call you out of the blue and ask if you have a few minutes to chat. Either way, it’s important to be prepared. As soon as you start sending out your resume and filling out applications, get ready for the phone interviews. Here are some ways to prepare.
Compile your lists
Just as you would with a regular interview, make a list of strengths and weaknesses you can discuss with an interviewer. Mention your accomplishments and discuss your weaknesses as areas for improvement. Acknowledge you’re working to get better and mention some ways you’ve already grown or overcome obstacles. Then research the companies you’ve applied to and make a list of talking points to highlight your enthusiasm. And finally, have a list of questions ready to ask your interviewer.
Review your resume
Get familiar with your resume. This sounds obvious, but if you put your resume together a few months ago, you might not remember all the dates and specific accomplishments off the top of your head. Or perhaps you’re a veteran in the workforce and you’re a little fuzzy on the details from past jobs. So, take some time to refresh your memory.
Talking on the phone isn’t as easy as chatting in person. Sure, you can do it in your pajamas, but you don’t have the luxury of eye contact and other body language that can help convey your meaning. Practice enunciating your words and speaking slowly and clearly. Record a phone conversation with a friend so you can listen to your own voice. Take note of any verbal ticks you may have and how many times you say “uh” or “um.” Those are especially noticeable over the phone.
Practice your etiquette
If the interview is already scheduled, answer your phone when they call – don’t let it go to voice mail. If you’ll be the one to call them, be as punctual as possible. Listen carefully to the interviewer and don’t start your answer until they finish their question. It’s OK if you need a few seconds to think of an answer, but don’t be silent for too long – they might think they lost the connection.
When you’re waiting for the call, have your lists, your resume, and paper and pen to take notes in front of you. Sit in a quiet space where you won’t get interrupted, don’t answer any other calls, and don’t reply to texts during the call. If you can, use a landline – you’re less likely to get cut off and you can hear more clearly. Don’t eat, drink, chew gum or smoke during the interview – although keep a glass of water handy in case you suddenly start coughing. Smile, sit up straight or even walk around during the interview. It can help you seem more energetic and confident.