Phone Interview Tips

phone interview tips

Phone interviews are less and less common these days. With teleconferencing apps like Zoom so popular, many recruiters prefer to schedule remote interviews face-to-face instead of over the phone.

Yet, you may still encounter recruiters that would rather meet over than phone than a video call. And with texting and Facetime the norm, we just no longer possess the phone skills we once did. 

These phone interview tips will help you crush your sight-unseen interview and help you get to the next step in the process. 

How’s your phone demeanor these days?

Back in 2010, the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association discovered that most people were using more data on their cellphones than talk time — meaning we were spending more time using our phones for internet browsing and texting than making phone calls (and that was over a decade ago!).

These days, we spend more time texting and messaging than we do talking on the phone. 

It makes sense: texting and messaging allow us to multitask, a certain level of privacy, and less overload. But when we spend more time on video calls or messaging, we also become out of practice talking on the phone.

Depending on how often you talk on the phone, you might need to brush up on your phone skills to prepare for a phone interview (in addition to honing your interview skills).

Purpose of Phone Interviews: What to Expect 

phone interview tips

The main purpose of phone interviews is to screen candidates. If a recruiter has requested this type of interview, it’s probably because they want to either expose disqualifying information or clarify information on your resume.

The good news is that you’ve clearly done something to pique a recruiter’s interest in you! 

Recruiters or potential employers may simply want to get some housekeeping out of the way before investing their time in longer, face-to-face interviews. 

Phone interviews may screen you for:

  • Availability
  • Salary requirements
  • Qualifications

If you don’t have the availability or your salary requirements aren’t in line with the employer’s, a phone interview may simply save a recruiter time. There’s no need to interview a candidate that doesn’t have the availability or the company can’t afford it.

Recruiters often need to clarify information, such as your qualifications. They may also want to ask questions about your resume or dig a little deeper into your skills before scheduling a full interview. 

Phone Interviews Vs Face-to-Face Interviews

Phone interviews may not be as common anymore, but they do still happen. And while they may seem like a breeze, they require an entirely different skillset from face-to-face interviews.  

Phone Interview Pros

The good news is that you can use phone interviews to your advantage. Since the recruiter can’t see you, you won’t need to worry about body language or your appearance. 

The recruiter won’t waste time on a full interview if you’re not a good fit, but you won’t waste time preparing for a full interview if the company isn’t a good fit, either. 

You can also use this pre-interview to screen potential employers — just as they’re screening you. Now is the time to ask for disqualifying information to find out if it’s worth your time to pursue this position. 

Yet, be careful doing so. You don’t want to ask about salary at the beginning of a 10-minute phone interview. If the recruiter doesn’t offer this information earlier in the call, wait until the end to ask. 

Phone interviews also allow you to improvise more, too. If you freeze or don’t know the answer to a question, you can always consult your notes before answering.

Phone Interview Cons

The downside to phone interviews is that you need to convey a lot of nuance through your voice and tone. 

The interviewer won’t be able to see your body language or mannerisms; if you’re someone who talks with their hands a lot (or uses facial expressions to communicate), you’ll need to figure out how to convey that type of nuance through language and your tone instead. 

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Phone Interview Tips: Preparing for a Phone Interview

Try these phone interview tips to prepare for your phone interview so you’re not caught off guard during the interview itself.

Practice Your Phone Skills

If you’re someone who isn’t used to talking on the phone, you may want to practice your phone skills and practice your interview skills. You don’t want to get on the call for your interview and freeze up or give the interviewer strange vibes because you’re not used to talking on the phone.

If you need a little professional help with this, Rise has got you covered. We offer interview skills training, including mock interviews.  

Create a Professional Environment

Remove all possible distractions or noisy interruptions before your interview, including pets and kids. 

Choose your interview location wisely. Don’t take the call in a noisy coffee shop or at work (if you’re not working from home). 

Mimic Face-to-Face Interviews

During a face-to-face interview or in-person interviews, there are ways to create trust and show you’re capable. Firm handshakes, big smiles, and eye contact are all ways to create a connection with the interviewer.

While you may not be able to replicate this experience to the letter, you can “mimic” the messages conveyed by this type of body language with your vocal tone.

Speaking assuredly and directly can serve as a proxy for a firm handshake. Using active listening skills (saying “right” or “I understand” can signal you’re listening) and smiling as you speak can help put the interviewer at ease and help you sound friendly. 

All of these tools can help you stand out when applying for a job.

Show Competency

The main purpose of a phone interview is to determine if you have the basic competency to perform the job and to discover any disqualifying information. 

If you achieve nothing else during a phone interview, prove that you have the basic competency to perform the job and graduate to a face-to-face interview where you can use body language to convey your message. 

Take Notes

One of the benefits of phone interviews is remaining sight unseen. You don’t need to dress for the interview or worry about whether or not you look friendly or likable. 

You can also take notes during these interviews or even keep a list of talking points or answers to common questions nearby to use as a lifeline if you panic or feel lost. 

Taking notes can help you process information and remember talking points throughout the interview and even afterward. 

Still feeling unsure or nervous about your phone interview? Struggling with job search burnout? Craving more phone interview tips? Join Rise to join a community of industry professionals who can help you prepare for your job interview every step of the way.

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