Dialing into Success: How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

Master the art of phone interviews: polish your pitch, anticipate questions, and showcase your skills confidently for success.

What is a phone interview, and how does it factor into the hiring process? Companies sometimes call upon candidates who look good on paper to conduct phone interviews in order to determine if they are ready for longer, more in-depth interviews. Often, this is referred to as a phone screen as opposed to a phone interview.

It is important to prepare for phone interviews as thoroughly as you would for in-person interviews; if your interviewer chooses to conduct an initial phone interview, a successful first round can ensure you move on to the next round.

Check out the next sections for advice on how to prepare, perform, and follow up after these important phone interviews!

Phone Interviews and Their Role in Hiring

Phone interviews are initial conversations between employers and job applicants, serving as a time-efficient way for companies to evaluate qualifications and alignment with the position before scheduling in-person meetings.

How Phone Interviews, Screen Interviews, and Face-to-Face Interviews Differ

Phone interviews, screen interviews, and face-to-face interviews are three distinct stages in the job application process, each serving a specific purpose. 

  • Phone interviews are typically the initial step, allowing recruiters to assess basic qualifications and communication skills. 
  • Screen interviews, often conducted via video conferencing tools, delve deeper into a candidate’s background and personality. They provide a more interactive platform for both parties.

  • Face-to-face interviews occur later in the process and provide a more in-depth assessment, including in-person communication skills, cultural fit, and a closer examination of qualifications. 

A phone interview is convenient for early preliminary assessments. Still, a screening interview bridges the gap between virtual and in-person interactions, and face-to-face interviews remain important to making final decisions.

Preparing for a Phone Interview

Examining the Role and Company

It probably goes without saying that the very first step is researching the company and understanding the role you are applying for. Visit the company’s website, read about current happenings, and peruse their social media channels, but especially check their LinkedIn profile page for information. Being well-informed is half the battle.

Review Job Description and Align Achievements

Make sure you take the time to examine the job description in detail. Highlight any keywords or skills required and then match your qualifications to these points. For instance, if customer service is one of their main requirements, share one of your best examples of when you went above and beyond for a customer.

Setting a Time and Place That Is Optimal

Make sure the interview location is quiet and not likely to be interrupted and ensure you allow ample time for the interview.

Preparation Tips for Phone Interviews (Just a Few More)

Practice Potential Questions

There are many common interview questions you can anticipate. Questions like ”Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you want to work for us?” are almost guaranteed. Having prepared responses to such queries will build your confidence and make you feel less nervous.

Minimizing Distractions

You want to be able to devote your undivided attention during the interview. Therefore, minimize distractions as much as possible. Place your phone on mute, close irrelevant tabs on your computer, and advise others that you are not to be disturbed.

Preparing Your Notes

As another handy tip, prepare briefing notes for yourself. Include key points, questions, or even prompts to assist you with tough questions. 

Phone Interview Expectations

The Opening 

As part of the interview process, the interviewer introduces themselves and explains a little about the company. They strive to set you at ease by asking some general questions such as “How is your day going?” or  “Where are you currently working?”. A positive rapport needs to be established.

The Core

During the core part of the interview, the interviewer asks you questions regarding your work history, skills, and reasons for applying. While answering these questions, it is important to stay focused, provide concrete examples to demonstrate your skills, and tie your answers back to the company’s objectives. 

The Closing

Last but not least, you’ll probably be asked if you have any questions. This is a great opportunity for you to show your interest in the role and the company. You don’t need to be afraid to ask insightful questions, such as “What would a typical day look like in this role?” or “How would I be assessed?”

A successful phone interview takes careful preparation, active listening, and thoughtful responses. 

Questions and Answers for Phone Interviews

  1. Would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself?

Your answer to this open-ended question should focus on major milestones, achievements, and skills that have made you successful in your career.

  1. Why are you interested in our company?

It’s important to demonstrate that you’ve researched the company before applying. Try to demonstrate how your skills overlap with the job requirements and the company’s value.

  1. What’s your understanding of the role you’ve applied for?

Your understanding of what is expected of you in this role and job is assessed by this question. Explain why you think you are a good fit for the job. Talk about your past experiences and how they relate to the role. Your contribution to the company’s success should be explained.

Interview Questions Less Common

  1. How do you handle criticism?

Assessing your openness to feedback gauges your growth mindset. Embrace criticism as a chance to learn and grow, staying receptive to suggestions for improvement.

  1. Can you talk about a time when a project didn’t go as planned?

The interviewer assesses your problem-solving skills. Example: “In my last job, faced with a project delay, I devised a more efficient plan to meet the deadline without compromising quality.”

Preparing these answers requires practice. Provide examples where possible to add credibility to your answers. Stay relevant, and be sure to align your answers with the position you are applying for. Your answers should highlight the skills and experience you possess.

Success Tips for Phone Interviews

Managing Nerves

Being nervous is normal; it often shows passion. However, don’t let nerves take control of the interview. Practice deep breathing exercises before the call. Treat a phone interview like an in-person one by dressing professionally to boost your confidence and reduce your nerves. 

Active Listening and Clear Speaking

During the call, actively listen to the interviewer’s words to understand questions and respond appropriately. Without visual cues, paying attention and grasping tone are crucial. Speak clearly by slowing down your pace, as nervousness may lead to speaking too quickly. Maintain a calm demeanor and ensure proper enunciation.

Making a Positive Final Impression

The call should end positively with a thank-you for the interviewer’s time and enthusiasm for the role. For instance, you might say: “Thanks for speaking with me. I am eager to contribute.”. Sending a follow-up email afterward is a nice touch.

Phone Interview Questions for the Interviewer

  1. Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?

You want to gain as much information as possible so that you can determine if this is the proper fit for you. After all, interviewing is a two-way street!

  1. How does this position contribute to the wider goals of the organization?

Asking this question shows you are a big-picture person and want to contribute well within your role.

  1. How would you describe the company culture here?

As a worker, you want to work in an environment that is friendly, welcoming, and motivates you.

  1. What does success look like for this position, and how will it be measured?

You are showing that you are committed to achieving success in your position by asking this question.

  1. Are there any professional development opportunities in this position?

Continual learning is one of the hallmarks of your commitment to growing within the company.

  1. What are the next steps in the interview process?

Your eagerness to move forward is evident here.

Pick Up That Phone!

Embarking on the journey of job hunting can be an intimidating experience, with phone interviews representing just one aspect of the process. I understand that it might pose difficulties at times. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that every interview and interaction serves as an opportunity for personal growth and skill refinement.

Through thorough preparation, maintaining a positive mindset, and a readiness to learn, you’re poised to excel in your phone interview and overcome any other challenges that may arise.

For some extra help along the interviewing way, click into our interviewing section on our website to learn more. Good luck!

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