This is potentially a make-or-break opportunity for your career search. If you do enough to impress a hiring manager, you’ll be brought in for a face-to-face. If not, then it’s back to the hunt.
With so much on the line, how do you pull off a great phone interview? Here are 10 tips to help you make the right call:
1. Know the company
Doing your research on a potential employer before an interview is going to make the whole process easier. Google the company to get a sense of what they do and how they set themselves apart from their competitors. A great way to distinguish between companies is to look at their mission statement and how they describe their firm in the “About Us” section. Take another look at the job description you’re applying for and highlight anything in particular that specifically coincides with the firm’s values. Hone in on these points during your phone interview to show how thoroughly your researched the company without being too obvious.
“The only thing a hiring manager should hear is the sound of your voice.”
2. Cut out all distractions
During a phone interview, the only thing a hiring manager should hear is the sound of your voice. That means turning off the TV – not just muting it – putting the dog outside, and secluding yourself in a quiet location where you can sit or stand. If you wear earrings, take them off so they don’t tap against the phone. Don’t eat or chew gum, and if you’re worried that your mouth might go dry, make sure you’ve got a glass of water in reach.
3. Have your paperwork in front of you
While you may feel that you have your work history memorized, having your current resume in front of you during an interview will help. It allows you to keep the dates straight and immediately answer any questions about names and employers when asked. Keeping your resume handy is also a good safety net. Should you get nervous and lose track of details – it happens to the best of us – all your information is right in front of you.
4. Prepare a cheat sheet
This tip goes along with the previous one. Just like having your resume in front of you, create a “cheat sheet” to prevent any stumbling. This can include questions you’d like to ask, ones you think will be directed toward you, and any other relevant information you’d like to bring up or keep on standby during the interview.
5. Take it seriously
Make no mistake about it – a phone interview is still an interview. Just because there isn’t a face-to-face interaction doesn’t mean that you can take it any less seriously. From the moment your interview is scheduled, you should be setting time aside to prepare for it.This is especially true for morning interviews, since you should be fully awake and ready to go before the first ring.
6. Listen more than you talk
Sometimes when we’re nervous or feel the need to impress, we talk more than we should. An interview is your chance to prove your listening capability to a potential employer. Let them guide the conversation, and try not to interrupt with questions unless you really have to. Instead, add any questions that come up to your cheat sheet and save them for the end.
7. Breathe and take it slow
Speaking clearly and slowly is essential to any good phone interview. At this stage in the hiring process, your voice is the only means through which a hiring manager can get to know you, so pay close attention to how you come across. Most importantly, smile! You may feel a bit odd smiling to an empty room, but the person on the other end of the line can hear it reflected in the tone of your voice.
8. Familiarize yourself with common questions
You can never be 100 percent sure of the questions that you will be asked during a phone interview, but you can make some educated guesses. Questions like “What have you done that demonstrates an ability to succeed in this kind of work?” and “What do you bring that other candidates don’t?” are common in any first finance interview, so having strong answers prepared will benefit you in the long run.
9. Ask questions of your own
Nothing impresses a hiring manager more than smart questions from an eager job candidate. Here are a few questions to ask:
- How does this position fit within the overall company’s mission?
- How do you measure success within this position?
- Is there any opportunity for growth down the line?
In addition, make sure to ask about any details not addressed in the job description. Asking these types of questions tells recruiters that you aren’t just interested in yourself, but how you can contribute to their firm’s future.
10. Send a thank you email afterwards
Since phone interviews mean that you don’t get to meet a hiring manager face-to-face, sending a nice follow-up email can go a long way. Let the interviewer know their time was appreciated and that you’re truly invested in becoming a part of the team. Taking the time to add a personal touch helps you stand out from the crowd.