Phone Interview Tips

Many employers (and recruiters) use telephone interviews as a means to recruit candidates for employment as well as a means to narrow the candidate pool for in-person interviews. It is very important that candidates prepare for the phone interview as diligently as for the in-person interview.

The following are tips that will help you ace the phone interview:

Use a landline if at all possible to avoid dropped calls or static on the line sometimes associated with cell phone service. Be sure to turn off call-waiting to avoid interruptions.

Have your resume and a list of your accomplishments in clear view so you can refer to them to aid you in answering the interviewer’s questions.

Speak slowly and clearly and avoid using “ums” and “uhs” in your answers.

Be prepared to explain every job transition as the interviewer will likely ask you to step him or her through each career move, why you made that choice, that lateral move, was it due to a promotion, etc. “I was recruited”, “I left for greater responsibilities” or “I was part of a larger company reorganization” would be sufficient answers in most cases.

Be prepared to explain everything on your resume to include each bullet point on your resume. Give more detail but keep in short and to the point.

Understand that the interview isn’t just about questions and answers. The interviewer will likely be searching for your level of self-confidence, personality and the ability to communicate effectively throughout your conversation, so don’t rush your answers.

Understand your red flags and prepare to address them. Whether its issues like age, employment gaps or job-hopping, what you say and how you say it can help to mitigate these issues. Address them head on in a non-defensive, factual way then move on.

Don’t get flustered with uncomfortable questions. The big four questions almost always rear their heads in a phone screen in one-way or another: Tell me about yourself. Tell me about your biggest strength/weakness. What are your salary expectations? And where do you expect to be in five years? There are numerous articles dealing with these and similar questions. Review them and practice your answers many times.

Do your homework and prepare great questions to ask. You will likely be given an opportunity to ask questions. Use it to show your enthusiasm, ask about this or that aspect of the job, or ask about how you would be able to use X in your background to do Y. Never use this as an opportunity to ask about their process, start dates, salary, benefits or anything else they can do for you.

Control your environment. Always arrange to be in a quiet, well-lit room, free from distractions. Sit in a chair with relevant materials easily in front of you.

I would like to thank my fellow LinkedIn colleague Arnie Fertig for allowing me to share a few of his insights.