Phone interviews can be much different than the ones that occur in person. Here’s what you should know to have a better chance of getting called back.
When a potential employer contacts you and schedules a phone interview, you might be wondering how it will be different from an in-office meeting.
Most employers use phone interviews as an efficient way to narrow down the group of candidates by ruling out anyone who isn’t professional, qualified, or compatible with the company and expectations for the role.
So even if you won’t be meeting your interviewer in person, it’s still important to prepare for a phone interview as if you are.
Here’s what you can do to get ready for your upcoming phone screening and understand what the interviewer will want to see.
1. Be Rested and Ready
Ensuring that you get sufficient sleep the night before the interview is critical to your success.
Avoid staying up late to go out with friends, browse social media, watch TV, or do any other activity that might make it difficult to rest properly.
What you do the morning of the interview matters just as much: don’t roll out of bed a few minutes before the call just because the interviewer can’t see you in your pajamas.
It’s a good idea to wake up at least an hour before your interview so you’re alert and have some time to prepare mentally. You’ll want to review any notes you’ve taken about the company and any details that will be relevant to the conversation.
Make sure you’ve eaten a nutritious meal and that you won’t be hungry or drained of energy during the interview. This simple change can affect your ability to think and speak clearly, as well as the interviewer’s perception of your enthusiasm and motivation.
2. Look the Part for Video Calls
Video calls are becoming more common recently, and there are a few crucial factors to keep in mind that you may not have considered.
a. Dress Like You Already Work There
Interviewers will pay attention to what you’re wearing, but don’t think that every potential employer will be impressed by a perfectly pressed suit.
Depending on the industry, the expected attire for employees can range anywhere from formal, semi-formal, business casual, and casual.
When in doubt, research the company culture and try to find photos of what the team is wearing. For example, if everyone is sporting a t-shirt and jeans, follow their lead! Wearing a suit in that interview can indicate to the interviewer that you may not be an ideal candidate for their company (even if you nail the interview questions).
Whatever the dress code may be, you should be sure that anything you wear is free of wrinkles, stains, pet hair, missing buttons, or fabric tears.
b. Pay Attention to Your Environment
You may be planning to sit at your kitchen table or the desk in your bedroom for the interview. However, keep in mind that certain backgrounds can be distracting or seem unprofessional.
Check the area behind you for clutter and items you wouldn’t want your potential employer to see. Tidy up piles of laundry, make the bed, and organize shelves to look neat.
Sometimes, even organized shelves can be distracting if there are too many eye-catching items on display. To fix this issue, temporarily remove the excess and replace it when the interview is over.
Make sure the lighting level is flattering (and not too dark). To do this, position your computer so that the lighting source is behind the screen and directed at your face.
3. Be Prepared
One of the best ways to stand out as a candidate during a phone interview is to be prepared. Here’s how.
a. Location, Location, Location
It doesn’t matter if you take the call at home or somewhere else, as long as it is quiet and free of distractions.
Avoid places where pets, children, crowds, or street noise might interfere with your ability to focus and be heard.
b. Know Your Stuff
Employers like to see that you’ve taken the initiative to familiarize yourself with their organization before the call.
Do your research and be able to discuss the company’s values, mission, and goals. Write down any important and relevant names in advance, too.
c. Take Notes
Have a pen and paper handy to write down any details you want to remember. Being specific about the conversation can help your follow-up communications stand out from other applicants.
Try not to type if possible, as the interviewer may think you’re multitasking and not taking the discussion seriously.
d. Be Aware
Though you might feel nervous, take a few moments before the interview to breathe deeply and relax.
Throughout the call, check-in with yourself to ensure you’re speaking clearly and with a calm demeanor.
4. Avoid Predictable Answers
Naturally, you want to impress the interviewer by answering questions with answers you think they want to hear.
But it’s important to answer each question in a way that sets you apart from the other candidates because your response isn’t merely satisfactory; it is also unique.
Potential employers want to see that you have put thought into why you feel that you would be a good fit for the role.
Look up some common interview questions and think about how you can answer them in a genuine, creative, and personal way.
But definitely don’t repeat the suggested responses verbatim: experienced recruiters hear these predictable answers all day long and won’t take you seriously.
5. Ask Questions
Once the interviewer has finished asking all their questions, they’ll more than likely turn the tables.
Have your own questions prepared when they ask if you have any. Asking a few questions can indicate that you have a genuine interest in the organization itself, not just the paycheck.
Take some time to think about any details that might not come up during a standard interview but would be relevant in how well you think you’d fit at the company and in that role.
Before you commit to your list of 2 to 5 questions, review the company’s website to make sure the answers aren't easy to find there.
You can also use the website to come up with your questions. Again, being specific about certain details unique to the organization is an excellent way to demonstrate interest and initiative.
Limit your questions to topics like company culture and what the interviewer enjoys about working for the company.
In most cases, it’s unprofessional to ask questions about these areas during an initial screening unless the interview brings it up:
● Time Off or Vacation Allowance
● Bringing Pets to Work
● Bonus Schedules and Raises
● Late Policy
● Incentives and Perks
● Policy About Dating Colleagues
You might be nervous about your upcoming phone interview, but with these tips, you’re far more likely to be one of the candidates who gets a call for the next round.
Reach out to me today if you need more advice or have additional questions!
Caitlin Sinclair is the Property Manager at Alexan Gallerie with five years of property management experience and many more in Customer Service. She shares her passion for her community and looks forward to making Alexan Gallerie the place to call home.