How to Prepare for a Phone Interview in 10 Steps

Probably the most overlooked item in the hiring process is the phone interview. I have seen too many candidates take a flippant view of phone interviews. Yet, they are often the entryway to nailing a good job. Let me share with you a few of the principles that I share with coaching clients on how to prepare for a phone interview. I tell people all the time that it is sort of like an open book test. If you do it right, you can have all of the helpful information that you need right in front of you.

By doing this, you will come across prepared and interested. These are two important qualities when conducting a phone interview. A hiring manager can figure it out quickly if you do not sound prepared. You may sound hurried or even worse come across as stalling at answering questions. You need to learn how to prepare for a phone interview.

How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

1. Print off company information from their website. Remember, a phone interview is a lot like an open book test. You should take time to look through every part of their website. Print off information from important areas of the website. For example, good things to print off would be products sold, company locations, company financials, and key executive names.

2. Have your resume in front of you at all times. While this should be a no-brainer, it needs to be mentioned. During an face to face interview you do not have as much liberty to look over your resume. A phone interview is much different. You can sound more in control of your experience by being able to look at your resume while speaking on the phone.

3. Have the job description in front of you. Take a moment to print off the actual job description of the open position. This can serve dual purposes. First, you can underline and circle any “hot buttons” that keep coming up in the conversations. Secondly, you can jot down additional information that might not be on the job description. All of these notes can be helpful if you get to go further in the hiring process.

How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

Image by Bryan Gosline via Flickr

4. Be sure to have a notepad nearby so you can jot down important info. This is another item that you really can’t use all that well in a face to face interview. Most hiring managers do not like it when an interviewee is taking notes. It makes them feel uncomfortable for one, but they would also rather have you focusing on what they are saying. During a phone interview you can write down many different things in the course of the phone conversation. You can write a reminder to something that was said that you want to come back to when you get a chance. You can also jot down new questions that come to mind that you want to ask if given the chance.

5. Have a few good questions written down. It is always a good idea to have some questions prepared ahead of time. It is no different in a phone interview. Have between 2-3 questions ready to go.

6. Use a land line phone. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this enough. I am always surprised at the number of candidates that were planning on doing the phone interview with their cell phone. I don’t care if you think it gets good reception or not, there are too many things that can go wrong. Even battling your low phone battery is not acceptable and could cause you to be opted out of the hiring process all together.

7. Choose a quiet place to talk. If you go home for the phone interview so you can use a land line but your St. Bernard is barking the whole time, you are just as bad off. You must choose a place that is quiet and you are not distracted. I have also had candidates hold their phone interview in an empty conference room at their current place of employment. This is also a bad idea. Anyone can walk in and make the situation very awkward.

8. Always stand for a phone interview. This is important…very important. You want to come across as having lots of energy. Nothing is worse then interviewing someone who speaks slow with very little energy. Often enough, it is because they have gotten comfortable and relaxed sitting in their chair. We speak differently when we are standing up.

9. Be sure you are not doing all of the talking. Always be sure the conversation is balanced. Your answer to any question should never be longer than 2 minutes max.

10. Reinforce your interest in going the next step at the end of the call. Do not just leave the call making them wonder about your interest. Even if you still have questions, let them know about your interest level. If a few days go by and you haven;t really heard anything. Consider sending a follow up email to find out what is going on.

Hopefully now you are better equipped at learning how to prepare for a phone interview. The big takeaway for you is that you need to have plenty of information in front of you and be sure you are engaged and showing lots of energy.

    Jonathan has been blogging since 2009 and is still in awe that the Creator of the Universe desires to have a relationship with him. His passions include spending time with his kids, reading, March Madness, surprise get-a-way trips with his wife, and watching funny YouTube videos.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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