The phone screen interview has become the new first step in landing your ideal job. Before you can get your foot in the door for an in-person interview, chances are you'll need to impress a recruiter sight unseen before securing a one-on-one with the hiring manager.
Like a traditional interview, a screening interview requires careful preparation. We've put together our 10 best tips for phone interviews that'll bring you one step closer to securing the job.
1. Make a great first impression (sight unseen)
In this case, it's your voice, rather than a firm handshake or polished suit the screener will notice first. They'll need to evaluate you on your phone etiquette, enthusiasm and tone of voice. The impersonal nature of a phone interview means it's even more critical that you're ready the moment the phone rings. If you're not sure how to prepare for a phone interview, these questions can get you started:
- Will you wear headphones or a headset? (if so, make sure they're in working order)
- Where should you sit, so there are no echoes or interruptions, or excess background noise?
- Are your resume and LinkedIn page up-to-date? Do you have both open in front of you?
Remember that people can hear the smile in your voice. Be sure to show your personality as you discuss your experience, skills, and accomplishments – part of the phone screening process is to learn who you are and start forming an opinion about whether you'd be a good member of their team. If you need to update your resume prior to the phone screen, consider using a resume template to get the work done.
2. Treat a phone interview as you would an in-person meeting
Practice common interview questions with a friend or reach out to your college's career center. Dressing like a professional will help maintain an air of formality and boost your confidence. Keep a copy of your resume and cover letter close by for reference, and make sure you've thought about the job description and why you'd be a good fit. Be prepared to ask a few questions too. Have a pen and notebook handy to capture thoughts and questions as the interviewer is talking.
3. Make a connection with the interviewer
Research them on LinkedIn. Is there a common thread you can mention as an icebreaker? Are you alumni of the same university? In the same groups? Follow the same people? Finding common ground will lead to a more relaxed, smoother conversation.
4. Remember, they can't see you
How can you express your excitement and interest without your body language and hand gestures as indicators? Use an occasional "I see" or "I understand" to indicate you're actively listening, and evoke emotion through the tone of your voice.
5. Keep the pace
Speak slowly and clearly, so the interviewer can follow your answers. Sometimes phone connections are staticky so enunciate – and be sure to let the interviewer know if you're having difficulty hearing. Let the interviewer lead the conversation without interrupting their questions. Keep your responses brief, but don't sell yourself short.
6. Take a moment to think
If you get stuck on a question, pause and use the technique of repeating or rephrasing questions. It bides you time and shows the caller you listened carefully. A glance at your resume will prompt you in your response.
7, Avoid "yes" or "no" answers
Add selling points at every opportunity to give your answers substance, which the interviewer can pass along to the hiring manager. Just as a well-written resume should focus on your outcomes, the answers you provide during a phone screen interview should focus on your accomplishments and what makes you stand out.
8. Don't say, "Show me the money"
Compensation is typically discussed at the end of the interview cycle, rarely during the phone interview. You should research the expected salary ahead of time, but now is not the time for you to bring it up.
9. Ask for that next interview
This is probably the most crucial component of the conversation. It's no time to be shy. Demonstrate your eagerness by asking for a second interview. This openness tells them you're serious about the position. If you're not comfortable being that direct, asking what the next steps are in the hiring process can sometimes transition the conversation to that request a little more smoothly.
10. Don't forget to say thanks
Graciously thank your interviewer for taking time out of his or her day to speak with you. And immediately send a thank-you email to express your enthusiasm and validate the next steps.
Now that you know how to prepare for a phone interview, polish up that resume and cover letter and be ready to go when your phone rings. Our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder will help set you apart from the competition and get your foot in the door. The step-by-step guidance and dozens of templates will help you customize your skills and experience.