More and more employers are now using phone interviews to weed out unqualified job candidates. Do you have a big phone interview coming up? Check out our hands-on guide on how to prepare for a phone interview to make sure you make it to the next round.
These days, most hiring manager screen potential employees by first conducting a brief phone interview. Interviews held over the phone are exactly like face-to-face interviews, except they are usually brief and are used to get a first impression of the candidate.
Phone interviews come with a wide array of unique challenges and advantages that deserve your full attention.
For example, phone interviews are unique in that body language is undetectable. This makes verbal communication paramount. This makes the phone interview a special challenge since some say that 90% of our regular communications are nonverbal.
In a regular interview, we meet with a hiring manager or committee that can read our body language, posture, facial expressions, and movements. Believe it or not, a ton of information can be conveyed through these nonverbal cues, such as one’s emotional state or their sense of humor.
If you have been asked to take part in a phone interview, congratulations!
You are that much closer to landing that job you have always wanted. But if you expect to be successful you need to practice due diligence and prepare accordingly. Unless you have the natural charisma of a movie star, this is a necessary step.
And if you are ready to take that first step for how to prepare for a phone interview, look no further. Our experts put together the ultimate step-by-step guide to make sure you know how to prepare for a phone interview. So, read on and find out the do’s and don’ts when it comes to navigating this round of your job candidacy.
How to Prepare for a Phone Interview: Typical Phone Interview Questions
If you want to know how to prepare for a phone interview, you need to be ready to handle any question that might get thrown your way. Luckily for you, we have you covered. We have compiled data from hundreds of phone interviews to put together a list of the most common phone interview questions across various all industries and fields.
Personal Interview Questions
Here are some of the most common interview questions that are asked about yourself and your background. If you expect to be fully prepared for your interview, you will want to make sure you can easily fire off a clear answer to any of the following:
- What is your one biggest weakness/strength?
- How do you work in a team environment?
- Can you give us an example of a time where you have gone above and beyond your job expectations?
- What does “success” mean for you?
- What are your long-term career goals?
- Why should we hire you before anyone else?
Also, you should be prepared to field any question about your prior work experience. These questions serve a specific purpose: to determine what you have been able to accomplish to this point, and why you are looking for a new job.
- Can you tell us about your most recent job?
- What were the responsibilities you had?
- Can you name some of the greatest challenges you faced in this environment?
- Why did you leave this job?
- What do you expect in terms of compensation?
Company-Related Interview Questions
Similarly, you will want to do your homework about the company you are hoping to work for. Any successful phone interview candidate should be able to demonstrate that they are familiar with the company and that you have what it takes to satisfy their specific organizational needs.
- What do you find appealing about this job opportunity?
- What can you bring to the table that other candidates cannot?
- How can your unique experience meet our specific needs?
- Would you be willing to relocate?
- How might your personality suit our workplace culture?
Questions to Ask
Nine times out of ten, job candidates will be given an opportunity to ask a few questions at the end of an interview. Take advantage of this! Typically, when an interviewee turns down the chance to ask questions it signals that they are disinterested in the company or have not done sufficient research about it.
- Typical workday/week like in the office?
- Your favorite aspect of your job?
- Unique challenges might I expect while working for [X]?
- You like most about this company?
- What does success look like for this position?
- The greatest achievement this department has made?
Although these questions are generic, they are a great place to start. We encourage you to get creative and ask more pointed questions that demonstrate that you know a thing or two about the history of the company and the phase in their development that they are at.
The Step-By-Step Preparation Guide
Now that you have mastered the most important part of how to prepare for a phone interview—practicing your responses—it is now time to work your way through the rest of the process. But do not worry, the hardest part is now behind you. From here on out, your goal should be to get into the right frame of mind for the interview.
Step 1: Get Your “Cheat Sheet” Ready
One of the best advantages of a phone interview is the fact that you can prepare notes ahead of time. Keeping a simple and well-structured page of notes in front of you during the interview can supply you with ready-made answers if you find yourself in a pinch. Just make sure not to read them word for word, as it will come off disingenuous or robotic to the interviewer.
Step 2: Get the Environment Feeling Right
During a phone interview, where body language is off the table, you will need to make sure you sound relaxed and at ease. One of the best ways to do this is to create an environment where you know you will be as comfortable as possible. This does not just refer to your physical environment, but also your emotional one.
First, make sure you pick a secluded room to conduct the interview in.
You will want to make sure you are removed from any potential distractions or interruptions. If the call is very serious, you might even want to post a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your front door to ensure nobody rings your doorbell or causes any undue commotion.
Second, make sure your “headspace” is right.
This means taking the necessary steps to make sure you are feeling well rested, alert, and in an overall good mood before the big day. Give yourself plenty of time the night before to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. Also, some exercise the morning of the interview might go a long way in putting you in the right state of mind.
Step 3: Set the Table
About 15 minutes before the interview is scheduled to start, ensure that you have everything you will need. Remember that some phone interviews for especially competitive positions can last over an hour. This means surrounding yourself with the following:
- A tall glass of water (just remember not to drink too much so that you need to excuse yourself)
- A clean sheet of paper and a functional pen for note-taking
- A box of tissues
- A comfortable seat, so you don’t squirm or fidget
Personally, we also suggest dressing well. We find that this helps by giving us a great confidence boost. Even though our interviewer can’t see us, the confidence that comes with dressing for the job will radiate through your voice.
Step 4: The Greeting
When the phone finally rings, answer the call promptly and cheerfully say “Hello, [Your Name] speaking”. The first thing that an interviewer will ask is whether they are speaking with the job candidate, so this will clear that up with them right off the bat. This is a great chance to come off cheerful and make a great first impression.
Step 5: The Answers
This is what you prepared for. Once the questions start coming, simply roll with the punches. By now, you should be able to articulate a coherent response to just about anything they throw at it. Just remember to not speak too fast, which can come across as nervousness. Instead, maintain a steady yet enthusiastic pace.
Also, don’t forget to smile. Even though your interviewer cannot see it, a smile can be detected through the phone. This is because when we smile our voices become lighter and more “warm” in tone. This is exactly how you want to sound during an interview. Remember, your interviews are looking for a coworker they can get along with and whose company they will enjoy.
Step 6: The Exit Plan
Even if the interview does not go your way, be prepared to end the interview with grace. Always thank the interviewer for taking the time to sit down with you, and that you would love to discuss this opportunity in more detail in person. Don’t let any stumble get you down—they are bound to happen. Instead, keep smiling and maintain that warm and friendly tone until the very end.
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