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How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

How to prepare for a phone interview graphic.

Telephone interviews are a quick way for an employer to see if your skills match what they need. Phone interviews are particularly common for temporary or contract roles or as the first in a series of interviews for a full-time position.

Phone interviews are also now a necessity as we continue to practice social distancing. These kinds of interviews come with their own challenges and can make people more nervous than a face to face interview.

Like any interview preparation is key. Prepare, practice and you’ll answer your next phone interview call confident and ready to showcase your skills.

Not sure where to start? Here are some of our top phone interview tips and some simple mistakes to avoid.

Phone Interview Tips

Like any interview, preparation is the most important part of a phone interview.

Prepare the same way you would for any job interview. The basic things you should always do before an interview phone call include:

  • Research the company, the company culture and the role. Study the job description and have clear examples ready to show how your skills align with what the company needs.
  • Prepare answers to common competency-based interview questions
  • Prepare questions for the interviewer and have these printed / on a screen beside you. Two or three is plenty.
  • Why do you want to work for the company? Know in your own mind why you have applied for this particular role. Passion can still be felt through a phone.
  • Practice answering questions (over the phone) with a friend or someone you trust to give honest feedback

Some Extra Telephone Interview Tips

  • Test your phone signal and make sure you have a quiet place to do the interview. If your family/housemates are at home at the same time let them know you’ll be interviewing
  • Have a glass of water to sip on
  • Have a phone interview ‘cheat sheet’ with all the key points you want to cover, (use these as pointers, rather than reading them straight off the sheet)
  • Practice talking on the phone! I know we mentioned this on the list above but practising over the phone really is the best way to improve your phone interviewing skills
  • Have something to write down notes or next actions down on beside you. For example, the interviewer might ask you to prepare x,y,z, or to send them something specific (for example a past project)
  • Dress the part & be conscious of your tone of voice. It might seem silly but dressing well for your call can give you an extra confidence boost.

What to Avoid During a Phone Interview

  • Don’t use speakerphone – the reception tends to worse
  • Turn off push notifications or any phone alarms so you don’t get distracted
  • Don’t be afraid of pauses. Avoid speaking too much and stop speaking once you’ve completed your answer. We can tend to ramble when we aren’t using body language cues, so be conscious of taking pauses and speaking too fast.
  • Don’t do your interview outside – it’s better to be indoors in a space where you have control over noise levels
  • Don’t panic if something goes wrong. If your signal drops or you can’t hear a question, let the interviewer know. Technology is amazing, but it can be unpredictable, and your interviewer will understand this.

Overall, the key to a good phone interview is preparation. Do your research, go in with the right frame of mind and you’ll be much more likely to relax and perform to your best abilities.

All of our consultants are currently working remotely. Please get in touch if you have any job queries or questions about an upcoming interview.

This blog was originally published in 2014. The post has since been updated and republished.