What is one best tip for phone interviews to get you to the next round?
To help you prepare for a phone-based interview, we asked business leaders and hiring managers this question for their best insights. From putting a smile on your face to preparing notes, there are several interview tips to help you nail a phone interview and advance to the next round of interviews.
Here are 15 phone interview tips to get you to the next round:
- Put a Smile On Your Face
- Treat It Like An In-person Interview
- Mock Interviews for the Right Mindset
- Speak Up When You Need a Moment to Answer a Question
- Avoid Filler Words
- Ask Thoughtful Questions
- Prepare Your Own Cheat Sheet
- Explain You Are Willing to Learn
- Close The Interview Strong With ‘What’s in It for Me?’
- Use Your Voice to Convey Professionalism and Interest
- Bring the Passion
- Don’t Bury the Lede
- Prepare Relevant Examples With the STAR Formula
- Ask About Next Steps
- Prepare Notes for the Interview
Put a Smile On Your Face
An age-old adage states, “A smile is worth a thousand words.” When you’re on a phone interview and put a smile on your face, it can project your personality to the interviewer. It may seem silly at first, but not only will it make you feel more comfortable during the interview, but also the interviewer. Your smile and ease during the interview will be projected through the phone, even through challenging interview questions. Smile during your next phone conversation and see how your body and posture relax, making the tone of the conversation more enjoyable.
Treat It Like An In-person Interview
Treat the phone interview with the same amount of professionalism as an in-person interview. Research the company and role ahead of time, ask thoughtful questions and send a thank-you note to the interviewer. Along with the basic interview etiquette, ensure that you have your call in a quiet area with minimal distractions. That way, you can focus all of your energy on showcasing your personality and skillsets during the phone call.
Mock Interviews for the Right Mindset
Ask a friend or family member to mock interview you over the phone a day or two before the call. Give them a list of questions (either write them yourself or do a Google search to see if there are any frequently asked questions about the role you applied for online.) Too many candidates go into a phone interview cold: not only will the call help you practice responses, it lowers the pressure, gets you in the mindset, and gives you an edge over other job seekers — putting you in a position to make a great first impression and advance to the next round.
Speak Up When You Need a Moment to Answer a Question
Be sure to vocalize your thinking process or if you need a moment to think before answering a question. Without seeing your body language, it can be difficult for the interviewer to know how you may be reacting to a question or comment. For example, if they ask “Tell me about a recent time you had to motivate a group to overcome a challenge,” don’t go silent, since it may make the interviewer think you’re panicking or not paying attention. Instead, simply say, “There are a few examples that come to mind, but give me one moment to pick which one I think will be most relevant to this role.” It is helpful for you to over-communicate, rather than say too little or nothing at all.
Avoid Filler Words
Just as your face can speak volumes about you in a face-to-face interview, when you’re on the phone, your tone of voice carries weight. You want to sound confident in your speech to get the best version of yourself across that you can on the phone. One tip is to avoid using sentence fillers like ‘um’, “uh” or “and” too often. The easiest way to do this is just by pacing yourself and stopping to think about your next words. A brief pause will come off better than a high-speed ramble. Don’t think just because an interview happens over the phone, it will be easier than in person. Stay calm and keep things paced and professional for the best results.
Ask Thoughtful Questions
You can stand out during the phone interview by asking the right questions. With the current economic climate, it’s more important than ever to inquire about the company’s financial stability and growth plans. Bringing up the topics of professional development, mentorship, and career advancement show you’re thinking about a long-term future with the company. You also can gain valuable insights by digging into the company’s culture. Asking thoughtful questions is an easy way to demonstrate your interest in the company and role.
Prepare Your Own Cheat Sheet
Preparation is a key to success in life in general, let alone a phone interview. Use this opportunity to make note of important information to reference with a cheat sheet. Such details could include the name of the hiring manager, CEO, or other notable company personnel, questions to ask the interviewer, company info such as recent or current initiatives, core values, etc., and/or anything else that you feel you may forget. Include whatever you see fit for the interview, but be sure not to let the cheat sheet interfere with the flow of the conversation.
Explain You Are Willing to Learn
One crucial thing that will help you make it to the next interview round is to explain from the start that you’re willing to learn. Even if you already possess the skills that are needed for the role, there may be specific project management apps or other company technology that you’ll need to master. Hiring Managers are much more likely to work with someone who is flexible and looking to grow right along with the company – especially when onboarding new hires can be so costly.
Close The Interview Strong With ‘What’s in It for Me?’
Close the interview strong by leveraging a tool marketing and sales professionals use to articulate exactly what the other party will gain should they move forward with the transaction: “WIIFM”.
WIIFM stands for “What’s In It For Me?” and it’s an acronym to remind you to communicate how what you have to offer will benefit the other person. There are a few ways you can use it, but here is my personal favorite:
Tell a “before and after” story! Discover as much as you can about their: business goals, industry challenges, work environment, and team spirit. Then use descriptive language to paint a picture of how they will transition from an average or uncomfortable “before” into a much better “after” once you become part of it!
For example: “Right now you could benefit from more experience, less waste, and more initiative. When I join the team will feel less frustrated, my experience will enable us to reach x goal and shareholders will be much happier!”
Use Your Voice to Convey Professionalism and Interest
Unlike in-person interviews, phone interviews do not allow the potential employer to see your body language. If you are participating in a phone interview, it will be important to communicate clearly. If there is something you don’t understand, ask for more clarification as the interviewer won’t be able to tell you are confused by looking at you. They also won’t be able to see the excitement over certain aspects, so you will need to verbalize that excitement. Finally, you will need to communicate professionalism as this is typically illustrated through dress and etiquette. Practice speaking clearly and slowly with inflection on your top points. Your voice is the key to the next step.
Bring the Passion
Speak with passion and confidence. Making an impression over the phone can feel like a challenge, so show your eagerness to collaborate with others as well as your knowledge about the job. Speaking with confidence can show how well you can fit in with the new team and be able to take direction with ease. By expressing your passion, you can show your best self in an interview.
Don’t Bury the Lede
Make sure when you answer questions, you lead off with the most relevant points and information about yourself. Don’t save the “big reveal” for the end. Tout your credentials, knowledge and achievements, but always be sure to state up front everything that is most relevant about you as it relates to the job you’re applying for. For example: If you are applying for a job in Tulsa, don’t start off talking about everything you accomplished at a similar type of job in Sacramento.
Start off by telling them your familiarity with Tulsa – how much time you spent there, your knowledge of the city, your favorable opinion of the city, etc. After that, you can pivot to your experience and how it lines up with the job. Think broadly when you do that first phone interview. Find the thing that gives you the best chance to move forward in the process.
Prepare Relevant Examples With the STAR Formula
Do your research and prepare your answers to typical interview questions, as you’d do for an in-person interview. While many phone interviews are just brief phone screens with a recruiter, you might find you’re on the phone for well over an hour and are expected to answer detailed questions about your previous roles and achievements. Make sure you have relevant examples prepared using the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Take time to think about your answers, and if you don’t fully understand the question, ask for clarification.
Smile when you talk — you’ll sound more confident and relaxed. Use a headset for phone interviews if you can. It doesn’t hurt to look in the mirror when on the phone — are you being lively and enthusiastic? Make sure you sound enthusiastic, like the sort of person they might want on their team.
Ask About Next Steps
Ask about next steps. Don’t be pushy, but be aggressive and show that you are interested in the role. Ask about what the next steps would be in the interview process and if there are any questions they have about your resume or you as a candidate. This will solidify you as a solid candidate and help clear the path for you to be moved on to the next round.
Prepare Notes for the Interview
Phone interviews allow you to use auxiliary materials without looking unprofessional or unnatural. The best tip is to prepare notes before the phone call and use them during the interview. You can write down certain cases in which you proved that you possess qualities described in the job description, your questions for the interviewer, or even facts about the company – pretty much anything that you would like to have in front of you while answering questions. It will help you feel confident in your answers and make you stand out from the crowd.