With increasing competition in the job market, more and more companies are using telephone interviews to pre-screen candidates. This offers employers a way to narrow the applicant pool and minimize expenses involved in interviewing out-of-town candidates. Phone interviews are a great way to sell yourself in an informal setting. With preparation, you should have the confidence it takes to impress employers. The most important thing to keep in mind is to relax, be professional, and be yourself. Here are a few tips to help make a positive impression that will increase your chances of being called in for a second interview. Land line phone connections work best. If your interview will be done using a cell phone, make sure you are in an area with good reception.

Do your Homework

Adequate preparation is key to any interview. Prepare for a phone interview as you would for a face-to-face interview. Before doing a phone interview, be prepared to answer typical interview questions:

  • Please tell me about yourself.
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What are your major strengths/weaknesses/accomplishments?
  • Why are you looking for this position?
  • Why do you want to work at our company?
  • Why did you leave your last position/company?
  • Give me some examples (with specifics) about how you improved a process or the bottom line. Be specific with examples and results.
  • Be prepared to answer leadership questions with examples, specifics and results. For example: give me some examples of when you have worked on a team, how you build a team, how you deal with an underachiever, or a time where you had to take a disciplinary action with a direct report. Be specific on how you handled the situation and what the result was.

The first step is to have a copy of your resume ready along with a pen and paper for note taking, a list of questions you have for the interviewer, and a job description. Having this information available will show the interviewer that you are organized and professional. If the interviewer calls at a bad time or you are not prepared, an acceptable response might be “Right now is not a good time, but may I call you back in one hour?”

Phone Interview Tips

Next, think about your answering machine or cell phone voicemail. Although it might be cute to have your children on the outgoing message or play a sample of your favorite song, this does not convey professionalism to callers. It is a good idea to update your message with information like your first name, last name or telephone number to let the interviewer know he or she has contacted the correct person.

Another helpful hint is to practice a mock interview beforehand. Interviewing on the phone isn’t as easy as it seems. You don’t want to seem nervous and use “ums,” “uhs” and “okays” when gathering your thoughts. By practicing with a friend or relative, you’ll be more confident and know exactly what to say and how to say it.

During the Interview

When the phone call comes, you must be prepared to give the interviewer your full attention. This means that you will need to clear the room of all distractions. Have your resume, the job description, and note-taking material in front of you. Remove your kids and pets, turn off TVs and stereos, and keep a glass of water nearby in case you need to clear your throat.
Here are some additional tips:

  • Don’t chew gum, eat, drink or smoke
  • Show enthusiasm ( it can be hard on the telephone). Smiling when speaking will project a positive image and give your voice an upbeat tone.
  • When addressing the interviewer use his/her title and last name, unless they tell you otherwise.
  • Disable your call waiting, if possible, as it may disturb your concentration or the overall momentum of the interview.
  • Stick to a discussion of the position. Do not bring up salary. That will be discussed later in the interviewing process.
  • Do not interrupt the interviewer. Let them ask most of the questions.
  • Give short concise answers and do not “beat around the bush.”
  • As with any interview, be prepared to ask questions at the end to convey interest in the company. It is a good idea to research the company beforehand for this reason.
  • Be sure and tell the interviewer you are interested in the job. Ask what the next step in the interviewing process will be.
  • Take notes about what you were asked and how you answered.

After the Phone Interview

It is important to call us directly after the telephone interview to let us know how the interview went. This is critical if you are going to be asked for a second interview. Next, you should write a thank you letter that should be sent out within 24 hours of the interview. This should be a short note, thanking the interviewer for his or her time, You should express your interest in the company and the position, and convey briefly why you are a good fit for the position.