When you’re in the running for a job, you often face a number of interviews. In some cases, the first one might be done by phone and take only about a half an hour. There are a lot of great ways to prepare for the classic, face-to-face interview, but what do you do when the person with the power to move you to the next round (or not) can’t even see you? Here’s how to crush your next phone interview.
Make a cheat sheet
We’ve recommended making a cheat sheet for job interviews and application questions before, but a phone interview is an even better time to make one, since you can keep it in front of you without the interviewer ever knowing.
A phone interview, per Indeed, is designed to narrow down the pool of candidates for a job, so it will likely focus on your most relevant skills and experience, as well as your availability, desired salary, willingness to relocate (if necessary), and other basics. It’s not likely you’ll be asked the broader questions about how you perform on a team or overcome challenges, so as you’re making your cheat sheet, stick to descriptions of your education, experience, and standard desires in terms of money, benefits, and culture.
It’s also unlikely this will run over half an hour, so don’t write out anything too lengthy. Instead, try to keep it one page long. Consider writing out why you want the job, what skills you have that align with the ones listed in the job posting, and what your timeline for leaving your current role and transitioning to this one would be. Read and reread your sheet ahead of time and, once you know your talking points well, make any paragraphs into bullet points so you don’t sound like you’re reading off a script.
Do a mock interview
If possible, get a friend or family member to do a mock interview with you over the phone so you feel confident in your ability to express what you need to say using that medium. The recruiter will be assessing your communication skills and your ability to think on the fly, too, so practicing will put you more at ease and make you sound more confident.
Ask your partner to draw up a list of basic questions about your experience and what you’re looking for in the job, but don’t have them tell you exactly what they’re going to ask. Once you’ve completed the mock interview, ask them for honest feedback. Record yourself, too, so you can hear where you stumble and where you shine.
Plan in advance
It might seem like a phone interview is more low-stakes than the kind where you have to put on a suit and make a good impression face-to-face, but the initial phone interview is a way to weed out unqualified candidates, so you’re competing with a larger number of people at this stage.
Don’t treat it like any other phone call; plan in advance where you’ll sit, how you’ll indicate to anyone around you that you’re busy, and how you can make it all run smoothly. Position a computer charger where you’ll be sitting in advance, for instance, and find a quiet place where you know you have strong cell reception. Even consider changing into something business casual to get yourself in the right headspace to transition into interview mode (when it won’t otherwise feel like you’re in an interview). Block out time on your calendar for this and have your location, change of clothes, and necessary accessories and tools ready in advance. Finally, try to use headphones if possible to minimise the chances of noises or interruptions — just make sure they’re fully charged, too.
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