Learning how to ace a phone interview is an imperative step in the job search process. Today, a typical job posting brings 250 applicants. On average, 10 make it to a phone interview, and of that 10, only 3-5 make it to an in-person interview.
The phone interview is the most important step in the process for companies to narrow down the applicants they want to bring in for that in-person interview. With such a low number of people making it to the interview stage, the trick is to get your foot in the door for the phone interview, ace that phone interview, and be one of the 3-5 to make it to the in-person interview. So, whether you love them or hate them, you need to know how to ace a phone interview.
Here are some best practice tips to prepare for and ace your next phone interview:
Research the Company and the Interviewer
Before you take the call for the phone interview, do a deep-dive research on the company and the interviewer. Don’t be afraid to ask who will be interviewing you. Head over to LinkedIn and cull through the company’s page, posts, and some of the employees in your business segment. If you are aiming for a job in the IT department, read the profiles of those who currently work there. Focus on digging into things that interest you about the position and the company. Have 3 questions ready, such as detailed responsibilities for the role, growth opportunities, and salary range/benefits.
Don’t be afraid to ask the salary range. A phone interview allows you to get that uncomfortable money question out of the way. You know exactly whether or not you want to move forward in the process.
Conduct the Phone Interview in a Quiet Place
When you agree on a time for the interview, make sure you will be in a quiet place. Do not take the phone interview in a loud coffee shop, or at work (what if your boss knocks on your door?), or when you’re cooking dinner for your family. Instead, conduct the phone interview in a quiet place (your car or closet) and be sure to have good service on your cell phone. Keep the ringer on silent so you don’t get pinged and distracted by notifications while on the interview. Keep a bottle of water next to you in case you get dry mouth from nerves or anxiety. Remember, you want your focus to be on that phone interview.
Have a Cheat Sheet Ready
Keep the job posting and your resume in front of you, side-by-side. Review your resume and the job description closely. Find the important keywords in the job posting that match ones in your resume — highlight both! This allows you to answer questions fast! Consider having bullet points of information that are quick and easily accessible. The cheat sheet is a vital component of your preparation so that if you’re asked a question about something you did at a company, you have it ready.
Find Out Next Steps in the Process
Reaffirm your interest and ask about next steps for an in-person interview. Find out how long it will be before a decision is made and offer up suggestions if they need more information from you. For example, I always provided a writing sample to a law firm partner or general counsel to review while they were making a decision. The idea is to keep the connection and interest going even after the phone interview ends.
Do you have other questions about phone interviews? Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and reach out.