A phone interview is how many companies start the interview process. The interviewer will typically discuss the position requirements and attempt to gauge your interest in the position. Though a phone interview seems like low stakes on the surface, it’s actually your first point of contact with the company– and first impressions are everything.

Phone interviews are typically scheduled in advance, but there are some cases when a recruiter might give you a surprise call. Always be ready to answer the phone in a professional tone and have a voicemail is professional as well. If you’re caught off guard by a call, set a later time to chat when you can get to a quieter place (whether it be 15 minutes or later that week).

Ask questions and do research

Prior to your phone interview, there are a handful of things you should be able to talk about with confidence. First, you should be able to articulate a clear understanding of the position. If you can’t, write down some questions to ask during your phone interview to clear things up. Second, check how your resume matches up with the position requirements. Make notes in areas that the interviewer might ask you about. And third, be ready to talk about yourself. The interviewer will likely ask what makes you interested in the position and how you’ve learned from your previous experiences. Be ready to talk about how your past experience and future goals make you a good candidate.

Keep your notes handy

The great news about a phone interview is that no one can see you, so you can refer to notes during the conversation. Keep your resume, cover letter, and the job description handy so you don’t have to recite them off the top of your head. You should also take notes during the interview to help you stay on track. Plus, they’ll be something to refer back to if you move on to an in-person interview.

Remember to articulate

However, being behind the phone is a double-edged sword. While your interviewer can’t see your notes, they also can’t see the hand gestures or facial expressions that help you communicate. It’s important to be articulate during your phone interview and maintain a friendly yet professional tone. Smiling while you speak can help you project a more positive image. And for some people, it helps to dress up and sit in a mirror during the call to mimic a face-to-face interview. You should also keep a glass of water nearby if your throat runs dry.

Plan, Practice, and Prepare

Phone interviews can be nerve-wracking, but they’re a great opportunity for you to get your foot in the door. The key is to prepare, listen closely, and be polite. A follow-up email thanking the interviewer for their time never hurts either. Be sure to mention a few details from the conversation. In the end, preparing for a phone interview isn’t that different from an in-person one. With a little confidence and a lot of preparation, you’ll be in the second round in no time.


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