Job Interview Tips

How to master your next phone interview

Written by Peter Jones

In this era of texting, when phone conversations are increasingly rare, a phone interview can be a daunting step during the job hunt process. It’s hard enough to do a face-to-face interview, but in this case you have to create a rapport with a potential employer with no facial expressions to guide you. And just because you’re not in front of someone, suited up and resume in hand, doesn’t mean that your conversation is any less important. In fact, a survey on CareerBuilder revealed that 87% of employers could tell if a job candidate was a good fit within the first 15 minutes of a phone interview.

Here are a few tips to help keep you sane and increase your chances of success if you’re asked to dial in to get to know your future employer.

Warm up your voice.

Don’t let your phone interview be the first vocal contact you have with another person on interview day. Call a friend or family member and have a chat. If no one’s around, have a conversation with yourself in the shower. Do anything it takes to get in conversation mode so you don’t sound like you just rolled out of bed at interview time.

Treat it like the real thing.

So what if your interviewer can’t see you? Dress up as you would for an in-person interview, wearing professional, comfortable clothing that makes you feel your best. Sit upright in a real chair. Don’t slump on the couch, lie on your bed, or sprawl out. Act like a professional and you’re more likely to sound like one.

Do your research.

Your interviewer wants to know that you’re serious about the job, and the best way to show you really want it is to seek out information about your interviewer, the company, the position, the industry, etc. Do as much homework as you would for an in-person interview. If you are well informed, you will also be prepared for any question your interviewer might toss your way.

Don’t babble too much.

Filling awkward silences with babble is a tic we all have in interviews, and it sounds even worse on the phone. Never talk to simply fill dead air and never keep your interviewer from getting in a word edgewise. Finish your sentences and allow room for the other person to respond—this is not only a good recipe for a natural interview conversation; it’s also a sign that you’re a considerate person.

Talk to a face.

If you can do a bit of Google stalking and find a photo of your interviewer, print it out or pull it up on your computer so you can look at it during your interview. This can help you connect with your interviewer and match her or his voice to a face. If you can’t find a photo of your interviewer, try looking at a picture of someone in your field that you respect and pretend that you are trying to impress that person.

End on a positive note.

No matter how well (or terribly) you think the interview went, make sure to end with pep and confidence. Thank your interviewer for the call, reiterate your interest in the position, and remind him or her that you’d be a great fit—and a strong asset!—to the team. Even if you’re not feeling it, project professionalism and positivity in those final moments. Then, immediately send a thank you note just as you would after an in-person interview.

About the author

Peter Jones