How to Ace a Phone Interview

The world of interviewing has changed so much over the past 10 years. Not only has the cover letter died but the phone interview has become a true first step to getting a foot in the door, literally. Most companies require you to pass their phone screening process before you can step foot into the office and meet with someone face-to-face. For some of you, this is an easy step to get past, but for many of us, we are much better at meeting someone one-on-one. Unfortunately, your voice and your words must sell you and that can be nerve-wracking and daunting all at once.  

If you find you are struggling during your phone interviews, here are a few suggestions that could make all the difference in the world:

  1. Dress Professionally: Sounds crazy, right? Yes, you could wear your pajamas or gym clothes, but the way you are dressed does impact your demeanor and performance. Psychologically speaking, have you ever noticed that the way you dress, really impacts how you behave during the day? So, when you dress in something professional or an outfit that makes you feel confident, it will show in your voice and will come through over the phone.
  2. Keep Your Notes Out in Front of You: This is one of the biggest perks to phone interviews. You can set your notes in front of you to make sure you highlight particular skill sets or experiences. Bullets are best; don’t script your notes. Reading them word for word will sound exactly like that. Having notes out can ensure you hit the topics you want to cover and make you feel more confident.
  3. Take the call in a private place free from all noises and distractions: The last thing you want during a phone interview is to be distracted by other people, the radio or a pet. This is a time when you need to focus, so finding a distraction-free space is absolutely essential. If you’re unable to be home during your phone interview, you could take the call in a private room at your local library or even in your car.
  4. Remain calm and speak at a moderate pace Phone interviews put people at a disadvantage because we don’t have facial cues or body language to gauge how to redirect or moderate our behavior, tone of voice, etc.  It is imperative that you try your best to avoid talking fast and saying filler words such as “um,” “like,” or “kind of.” If you need to, take a few moments after each question is asked to gather your thoughts before you give your answer. You can always acknowledge the question by saying something like “of course” or “definitely,” and buy yourself a little bit of time before going into your full answer. 
  5. Do smile: Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice. It can also be helpful to stand during the interview, since this typically gives your voice more energy and enthusiasm.

​Similar to any interview, be sure to ask questions and thank the interviewer for their time. Be sure to ask for the interviewer’s email address, if you don’t already have it, and send out an email thank you note immediately, reiterating your interest in the job. Finally, take a deep breath, and remember, like most things: practice makes perfect. 

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