Phone interviews are as exciting as they are daunting. While phone interviews allow you to forego the need to show up, shake hands and smile maniacally, the lack of face time can make it extra difficult to convey your aptitude for the job.
I always found phone interviews to be the most nerve-wracking part of the job-hunting process. This is, in part, due to the fact that I didn’t really understand their purpose, so I didn’t know how to prepare. Plus, trying to establish a connection with the person on the other end of the phone — without the use of body language — felt like trying to juggle with my hands tied behind my back.
Practice does indeed make perfect when it comes to acing interviews, but the first step in being an A+ interviewee is knowing where to start. Follow these 3 crucial tips for preparing for a phone interview – the smart, simple and stress-free way (yes, it's a thing).
Get a feel for the company
Don’t fall down the rabbit hole here — It’s really not necessary. There’s no need to know where the CEO went to high school, what the company netted in profits last quarter or exactly how many people it employs. Kudos on the research skills, but that depth of understanding won’t be required — or expected — during a phone interview.
Instead, focus on understanding the company’s core offering, which is the product or service they’re most intent on selling. This should be easy to determine — The company website and social media profiles are a great place to look. Often times, the company will also give a brief summary of its core offering at the beginning or end of a job description, so read it thoroughly!
Sometimes, especially within large companies, the core offering can be a little more complex. The company may sell an array of products, or it may also offer services for the product(s) it sells. In that case, aim to nail down the industry the company is in and how their offerings, collectively, make a positive impact on it.
Dissect the job description
Most companies are pretty transparent about what type of person they like to employ. In addition to a traditional “requirements” section, most job descriptions now include a “who you are” section, which reads a lot like a profile on Match.com: “Outgoing, go-getter, and shamelessly competitive” or “Independent, reliable, likes to think outside the box.”
While the idea of including traits in a job description may seem foreign at first, they’re actually a testament to how company culture has shaped the way we work. And by being honest about their intentions straight from the start, companies are helping you to help yourself throughout the interview process.
During my last job search, I made a habit of keeping a copy of every job listing I applied to. After applying, I downloaded each listing as a PDF and saved them all under a folder on my Mac. If I was lucky enough to land a phone interview, I would open the job listing in Adobe Acrobat and highlight the key personality traits the company was looking to find. Then, I would draft my interview responses to reflect how my experience exemplified those traits.
Lay it all out on the table
Literally. Your computer, phone and tablet are super handy during the research stage of interview prep. After all is written and reviewed, though, it’s time to get back to basics: Paper and pen(cil). Print out your hightlighted version of the job listing along with a copy of your resume and any interview answers you’ve prepared. Set them out in front of you so have quick access to the info you need once the interview gets going.
Keep a pen or pencil handy to jot down notes — Questions you have about the role, concerns you may have about the qualifications, specifics that weren’t mentioned in the job listing, etc. Not only will your diligent scribbling ensure you get a good grasp of the role, but tailoring your questions and comments to the conversation tells the employer that you’re interested in, excited by and curious about the job.
One last thing: Remember to breathe! After you have all your prep material ready to go, give yourself 5-10 minutes to completely relax. Close your laptop, put away your phone, sit silently and breathe. This will really help to reestablish focus and calm your nerves before the interview starts.
At the end of the day, it’s just a phone call. Nothing more, nothing less.
What's the most challenging part of phone interviews?
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