Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

How to Have a Successful Phone Interview

I remember the first phone interview I had. I was a junior in college and I was interviewing for a summer job I had wanted. It was an awesome position and I was really excited about interviewing for it. Unfortunately, though, I completely bombed the phone interview. Well, I’ll be a little lenient on myself. The initial phone interview went pretty well, but it was the second phone interview that I bombed. Either way, I messed up. I failed to have questions ready for the interview and I’m sure the interviewer took that as a sign that I was not prepared, not very interested or void of intelligent thought. It was really unfortunate too, because I am pretty sure the interviewer really liked me and wanted to hire me, but since I failed to bring my A game in the phone interview, he had to move on. And rightfully so.

A phone interview may sound super easy and non-important, but if that’s how you look at phone interviews then that’s your first problem right there. You have to remember that a company usually uses phone interviewing as a way to weed out some of the unqualified candidates. It is a very important step in the interviewing process and if you don’t view it as such, you can sabotage your chances at getting the job. That said, take a look at some of these tips you can use to have a successful phone interview that may put you in the lead for the position you want.

Have Your Resume Ready
If you are applying for jobs and have your own desk or office area, it would be a good idea to tape your resume up somewhere close or have it on hand so if an employer contacts you, you are ready to answer questions about your past experience and skills.

Prepare As If It Were an In-Person Interview
If a company asks you to participate in a phone interview ahead of time, then you should prepare for it as you would an in-person interview. Sit down and make a list of your strengths and how they can benefit the company. Make a list of your weaknesses too and how you are working towards improving them. That way, when the interviewer asks you these questions, you’re not stumbling around in your head for an answer. If the employer calls you out of the blue and asks if you will have a phone interview with them, they will usually ask you if it’s a good time and if you have a couple minutes to talk. If it’s really not a great time or if you are busy, then do not be afraid to say that it isn’t and ask them what a good time is to call them back. Calling them back is better than having an awful, impromptu phone interview.

Things to Be Mindful of During the Interview
• Make sure you have a pen and paper ready in front of you so you can take notes on important parts of the phone interview
• Make sure your space is quiet and void of any distractions. This is a lot like how you should prepare for your Video Interview. If you live with other people or have kids, make sure they know that you need quiet while you are in your room and that they should not distract you for at least 30 minutes.
• Turn your call waiting off so you aren’t distracted or bothered at all while on the phone.
• This should be obvious, but to some it’s not: don’t eat or chew gum while having a phone interview. The other person will definitely hear it and it’s not a great sound to hear on the phone.
• Take your time talking and answering questions. Since the interviewer can’t see you, you need to make sure you are speaking clearly.
• Don’t interrupt the interviewer when they are talking.
• Remember your ultimate goal: to set up a real interview, either by video or in-person. Impress them on the phone and you will likely get another chance to speak.

Research
Just like in a video interview or an in-person interview, you will need to know what the company is all about and what they specialize in. Before you participate in the phone interview, make sure you do all of your research on the company and find out as much as you can about their business. Have plenty of questions ready for them to show that you have done your research and want to learn more about what it is they do.

The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone on phone interviews is to regard them just as highly as an in-person interview. Like I said earlier, this is likely the company’s chance to weed out candidates that are unprepared, seem uninterested or just don’t fit what they are looking for. If you can wow an employer in your phone interview, then you have a much better chance of snagging a second interview in-person or remotely online. Be prepared and don’t forget your questions for the employer!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Resource Select Group

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter