Phone interviews are a common part of the hiring process — employers use them for quick initial candidate screenings and to save money on travel for remote applicants. Making a great impression over the phone can be challenging, but with the right preparation, you can show off your professional communication skills and convince the employer that you're a great fit for the new job.
Practice Answering Questions
Before a phone interview, it is essential to practice answering questions out loud. Write a list of interview questions, and make notes about each one. Then, lock yourself in a quiet space and speak the answers using your notes. Repeat this process until you can deliver a natural, comprehensive response without stammering or stumbling. At that point, one useful — though mildly uncomfortable — exercise is to record yourself answering questions. The recordings can help you identify distracting vocal patterns, including the overuse of "um" or the tendency to end sentences with a questioning tone. Mock interviews with a friend are also a great idea; like an actor in a play, the more you practice, the easier it is to adapt and get back on track when nerves and tension are high.
Work on Tone
A phone interview is often your one chance to convince an employer that you're a personable addition to the team — using only your voice. In the absence of facial expressions and gestures, your tone and inflection are powerful indicators of personality. To sound friendly and confident, make a point to smile as you speak. Although it might feel silly, this simple act automatically warms your voice. If you have a tendency to talk quickly, or if you become overly formal when you're nervous, focus on using a relaxed, conversational tone. This strategy sets interviewers at ease and sets the stage for a comfortable discussion about the new job.
Prepare Your Workspace
The fact that interviewers can't see you during a phone interview can be a huge advantage. It enables you to keep everything you need in full view. Choose an interview space with a large work area, and organize your materials. On the desk, arrange your resume, a list of key points, notes from your company research and a list of questions to ask the interviewer. It's helpful to have a computer nearby so you can pull up portfolio items or the company website for quick reference. Don't be afraid to add items that help you deliver a better interview; if you tend to wander off course when speaking, post a list of natural transitions to help you get back on track. If you struggle to find a conversational tone during a phone interview, print a picture of the interviewers off LinkedIn and pretend you're speaking to them in person.
Preparation can make or break a phone interview. By starting the process as early as possible and practicing relentlessly, you can deliver a strong, memorable performance that leaves the employer wanting more.
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