Although phone interviews can be considered “easier” than when it is in-person, you still want to maintain your professionalism and give an upstanding first impression without being able to use body language. Find out how to succeed in an interview where you can only represent who you are through voice.


What to expect during a phone interview?

While the setting may be different, a phone interview is still an interview, nonetheless. So you can expect your typical first-round interview action items such as the standard (Learn commonly asked interview questions for executives), potential salary expectations discussion, and basic personal life questions. You can also expect a few random and unexpected questions. These questions should not cause any worry. If you navigate through the question logically and respond clearly and concisely, you will be fine. Usually, there is only one interviewer or hiring manager when it comes to phone interviews. Anticipate some back-and-forth dialogue and never be afraid to ask questions. Read on to learn how to represent yourself as the ideal candidate over the phone.

Top 5 Tips for Phone Screen Interviews

  1. Have reference material handy. The interviewer cannot see what is happening on the other side. Use this to your advantage by having documents you can reference when asked tough questions. It would be helpful to have the job description pulled up so you can explain how you are the best fit solely based on what the interviewer is looking for. Additionally, have your resume, cover letter, and other side notes ready for quick reference if you get stumped. You might be asked questions about the company. Do your research beforehand (more on this later) and take notes that you can look at during the interview. Beware of reading off exactly what you wrote though. Even if you do not think it is obvious, someone reading directly from something is always clear to the other party.
  1. Focus and eliminate all distractions. While a phone interview may feel more relaxed, you do not want to get too comfortable. Find a quiet room where you know you will not be interrupted. You give your best answers to interview questions when you place your full focus on them. Keep your pets in another room during the interview and eliminate any other distractions as much as possible.
  1. Smile. Your interviewer can indeed hear your smile. The person conducting the interview can notice your tone and is taking note of whether you sound enthusiastic about the job or not. Smiling can help uplift your tone of voice, and it will translate over the phone. Do not stress about body language or looking crazy, no one can see you anyway!
  1. Be an active listenerPay attention, ask discerning questions, and engage with the recruiter. Active listening will show that you are taking the interview seriously. Practicing your listening skills with friends or family could be beneficial. Be mindful of your listening habits. Try to take in every word and follow-up with questions that show you gained insight into what the interviewer said.
  1. Do your research. Find out as much as you can about the employer and the position before the interview. Moreover, the latest interview statistics reveal that 47 percent of interviewers say they wouldn't choose a candidate who has little knowledge of the company. This tip also translates to being helpful for in-person interviews. Here are some key points to look up beforehand: Review the company website and understand the company’s values, stalk the organization’s social media accounts to get a better sense of how they portray themselves to the public, re-read the job posting to see what exactly they are looking for, and develop questions based on your company research to appear even more interested.

Quick Bonus Do’s and Don’ts to Keep in Mind

  • DON’T take the call in a car, cafe, or anywhere noisy
  • DON’T answer the phone with a casual tone, introduce yourself professionally. “Hello this is [your first name]”
  • DON’T smoke or chew gum during the call
  • DO send a thank you email 1 or 2 days after the interview
  • DO strategically think about your answers but do not take a long time
  • DON’T talk over the interviewer, allow them to interrupt you and ask follow-up questions
  • DON’T assume the dreaded salary question won’t be asked because it’s a phone interview. Determine what your salary expectations are beforehand
  • DO breathe and take time to speak clearly. Speaking too fast can make you seem nervous, and it is harder to comprehend what was said
  • DO put your full attention on the interviewer. You can take out the laundry later.
  • DO set a professional voicemail message, just in case you miss the call

The Bottom Line with Phone Screen Interviews

Phone screens are just as important and critical to any interview process. In fact, most times they're even more so because this is probably the first time you'll be speaking with them - which means that weighty first impression will set everything into motion from there on out.



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