You’re about to have a Phone Interview.
How does that make you feel? Are you scared?
Do you know how to prepare for it?
If you are currently looking for a job in the field of tech, you better dig into this topic. With the growing trends of remote workforce and companies hiring from distant locations, having phone interviews are becoming the go-to way for first-tier candidates.
Now, some people dread phone interviews. They freeze, they can’t find the words, they don’t know how to communicate well over the phone. According to Albert Mehrabian, 55% of our communication is body language. During a phone interview, this gets cut out completely, which makes communication much harder.
But fear not. You can too ace a phone interview. In this article, we collected our best phone interview tips that can help you get ready for the big call, and get you into the next round.
Before the phone interview
1. Learn to market yourself
Improve your ability to clearly and succinctly express yourself during an interview. Adopting the ‘Bento Box Technique’ will help you communicate more clearly, even over the phone. This technique helps you organize your thoughts and ideas into small ‘boxes’, that will keep your line of thought well structured.
Create an introduction of yourself – of your career history, skillset, achievements, etc. – with this technique, and you can be sure to have a neatly composed elevator pitch for your next job.
2. Collect the history of your jobs & projects
Create a list of your previous jobs and projects that you’d like to mention during the call. Having them handy, you can make sure not to miss any important accomplishment that might contribute to your success.
Focus on accomplishments that showcase your skills that are in line with the position you’re being interviewed for. An easy way to do so is to look for keywords mentioned in the job description and incorporate those keywords in your list. That way, interviewers can instantly see if you are the right candidate.
3. Find the job description, and keep it handy at the call
If you’re in the ‘job seeker’ mode you have probably applied to more than one positions. It might even be difficult to keep track of all the requirements and details. Therefore, make sure to find and read the job description for the job you’re getting interviewed for, to have a clear picture of what you need to prepare for.
4. Rehearse typical interview questions
Spend some time to research and answer the most common interview questions:
- What are your strength and weaknesses?
- What are you looking for in your next job?
- What are your career goals in the next 5 years?
- Why/are you planning a career change?
You don’t have to write an essay on each of the questions, but it’s good to have an idea of what you are going to say when someone asks one of these questions.
5. Pick the right location
Even though it’s a phone interview and you won’t need to show up in person, the location of receiving the call is of utmost importance. Avoid taking it on the street or from a noisy café as these places are full of distractions which will make keeping the focus difficult.
Stay at home, or perhaps find a quiet coworking space where you can take your notes out and give your full attention to the interviewer.
If you’re having a video interview, pay attention to the background and make sure to avoid any distractions.
6. What are you passionate about?
Think about what you are truly passionate about in your work. Which language or framework suits you the best, and why?
Talking about things that you like will boost your mood and confidence, also will bring a smile on your face – that the interviewer will also notice. So, take some time to collect what you really like about your field.
During the phone interview
7. Create clear concise answers
Now that you have adopted the Bento Box Thinking and collected your history of career and achievements, it’s time to use the technique in practice. Articulate your answers well, by going through each ‘box’, one-by-one. This will prevent you from rambling and help interviewers follow your story, without zoning out. A well-structured introduction and career recap is an excellent way to make yourself remarkable.
8. Be confident
If you followed all the initial preparation tips in the ‘before the call’ part, you surely have every response ready in your head. During the interview, it’s important to communicate them with confidence.
Confidence doesn’t mean that you have to rush answers or flood the interviewer with your ideas. Confidence means, that you are able to stay calm, talk slowly, and if needed, allow yourself a second or two to think about a question.
Put a smile of your face. Even a fake smile will give your voice an upbeat feel, not to mention that it stimulates the brain to emit ‘happy hormones’, that will give you further confidence. The interviewer cannot see your face or read your gestures, but they’ll credit your cheerful voice.
Pro tip: record your voice before the interview to hear how you’re talking. Then, you can adjust the tone, the pace, and the volume.
10. Take notes
Have a pen and paper with you during the call, and be ready to jot important info down. This can be useful later on as you go through the details, or compare the position with other opportunities. You can also use this for the follow-up thank you note you’ll send to the interviewer.
If you wouldn’t like to miss any details of the interview, record the whole call. This also enables you to dissect the interview and find the areas where you need to improve.
11. Stay positive
Keep a positive attitude towards all questions. Even if the interviewer brings up difficult subjects, such as the reason for leaving your previous place, do not start to complain. A phone interview is not the right opportunity to look for comfort or justification. Answer the questions with a focus on your future and goals.
After the Phone interview
12. Evaluate the call to see where can you improve
Take a moment after a call to see how you feel. Are you satisfied? Are you dissatisfied? Why do you feel that way? What would you do differently if you had a second chance?
We do this to improve our interview skills, and not to beat ourselves up mentally. Avoid torturing yourself over any mistakes – instead, just note that they happened, label the good and the bad things, then move on. It’s a learning process.
13. Send a ‘thank you’ email
Spend a minute or so to thank the interviewer for taking the time and contribute to your job search. Besides a friendly gesture, you’d also like to establish a good relationship with recruiters and companies along the way, no matter whether you are going to take that particular offer. You never know what the future has in store.
14. Be patient
The process of hiring is complex, especially if a recruiter is involved. Don’t be obsessed with waiting for the call, or bug the recruiter for an answer. After five workdays, it’s acceptable to drop an email to see if there’s any news and if you can get feedback from the company or the recruiter.
Don’t worry – Practice Makes Perfect
Mastering phone interviews has a certain learning curve, you need to practice it. By following our phone interview tips above, you’ll be able to tackle these calls with more confidence, and of course, success.
As you get more comfortable with these interviews, you’ll find yourself on a second interview. To get ready for that, don’t forget to check out our post on how to smash your technical interview.