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8 Tips to Nail a Phone Interview

We are a nation addicted to our phones. And while we might sleep with them and take them on vacation, what we aren’t doing is talking on them. Yet despite our aversion to talking on the phone, mastering the phone interview is a necessity if you want to land a job. Acing the phone interview is often a prerequisite to landing an in-person interview, so here are our best phone interview tips:

  1. Double Triple check your contact information
  2. Take the time to prepare
  3. Test sound quality and connection when possible
  4. Smile!
  5. Practice active listening
  6. Keep the end goal in mind
  7. End the call on a positive note
  8. Send a thank you note

Triple check contact information before the phone interview

Make sure you know whether you are initiating the call or if the interviewer will call you. Verify that the company has your correct phone number. You might even send an email confirming the date, time and number the day before so that you aren’t scrambling to connect at the last minute.

Prepare well in advance

You are well aware that you need to prepare for an in-person interview, and you should be no less prepared for a phone interview. Have a copy of your resume and the job description in front of you. Do some research on the company and the person interviewing you before the call. Be prepared to answer common interview questions, and also create a list of your own questions about the position to have on hand. Have a pen and paper handy for taking notes.

Avoid any possible tech issues during the phone interview

While it’s unlikely that you have one, if you do have a landline available, use it! If you’re using a cell phone, make sure you do the phone interview in a quiet place that gets very good cell reception. This place should also allow you to speak at a reasonable volume and lack any distractions or interruptions. Many digital interview now take place over the computer. In this case, the same cell phone interview tips apply – just make sure your wifi connection is stable too.

Smile (possibly the most overlooked phone interview tip!)

Dr. Albert Mehrabian famously concluded that 55 percent of communication comes from body language, 38 percent from the tone of voice, and 7 percent from the actual words spoken. When you’re on a phone interview, you lose more than half of the power of nonverbal communication. Make up for it by smiling while you speak to bring energy and excitement to your voice. You might feel a little silly at first, but it really works!

Listen Attentively

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “You were born with two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak.” Yes, the interviewer will be asking questions, and you should be ready to wow them with your answers, but don’t dominate the conversation by turning the interview into a monologue. A phone interview is as much about you getting to know them as it is about them getting to know you.

Keep the end goal in mind

Typically, the purpose of a phone interview is not to get a job offer, but to get a face-to-face interview. Convince the interviewer that bringing you into the office for a face-to-face meeting will not be a waste of time. Make sure your conversation demonstrates your experience, interest in the position, and your desire to continue the conversation in person.

End the interview on a positive note

At the conclusion of the call, if you know you want the job, make sure that you end the conversation on a positive note. Thank the interviewer for taking the time to speak with you and for answering your questions. Reiterate your confidence that you are the right person for the role and always make sure that you ask about the next step in the recruitment process to demonstrate your interest in the position.

Send a thank you note

A phone interview is every bit as important as an in-person interview, so you should always follow up with a brief note thanking the interviewer(s) for their time and reinforcing your interest in the position. This can be done via email and should be sent within 24 hours after the call.

Executing these Phone Interview Tips

For some people, phone interviews can be more nerve-wracking than in-person interviews, if only because so many of us have grown accustomed to communicating via email and chat. Just remember to prepare just as you would for an in-person interview and project confidence that you have what it takes to do the job! Afterwords, look for these top signs you aced the interview!

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Janet Berry-Johnson

Janet Berry-Johnson is a CPA and a freelance writer with a background in accounting and insurance. Her writing has appeared in Forbes, Guyvorce, Magnify Money, Freshbooks, Intuit's Firm of the Future, Discover Student Loans, and Chase News & Stories. Janet lives in Arizona with her husband and son and their rescue dog, Dexter.