8 Phone Interview Tips That Will Land You A Second Interview

By Jeff Gillis

Congratulations!

Your resume is stellar, your application was impeccable, you’ve caught a potential employer’s attention and now they want to get to know you better.

In years gone by that would have meant an in person interview but in today’s increasingly busy digital world, many preliminary and some final interviews are being held in a wide variety of mediums including on the phone.

A phone interview? As in, we talk on the phone and not actually in person? As in, they have NO idea what I’m actually wearing during the interview!? This is AMAZING!  

Great, right?

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Nothing like an interview for your dream job where you can lounge around in your pajamas, secretly watching TV out of the corner of your eye and, gasp, maybe even surf the web at the same time and update your status to “Kickin’ it in my footie jammies knockin’ out my interview!”

No…this guy isn’t ready for his phone interview!

Not so fast. Yes, it’s true, your future boss might not need to know that you’re on the other end of the line in your favorite Scooby Doo flannels, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat the phone interview as seriously, if not more seriously, than any other standard interview.

But..but…but…

No buts.

Just because you’re not face to face with a potential employer doesn’t mean it’s time to throw all our hard learned interview rules out the window.

A good old telephone interview might sound like the perfect opportunity to slack and kick back, but in actuality, you have to work even HARDER to make yourself stand out to a potential employer.

But before we dive into the actual tips for phone interviews:

Why do some employers ask for phone interviews in the first place?

    • In order to quickly eliminate you as a candidate. This is especially common in big companies. Instead of spending the time and resources needed to bring you in for an in person interview they’ll want to see if you give them a reason to cross your name off the list.
  • Interview candidates that are out of town or aren’t able to attend an in person interview for whatever reason.

The point is, this is probably your first point of real contact with the company. While you’re not going to land the job from phone interview (most likely) you certainly can lose it!

Unique as phone interviews are in the job hunting world, at their core they are still pretty similar to any other interview and should be taken just as seriously…if not more seriously.

More seriously? Is that even a thing?

You bet your Scooby Doo flannels it is.

You see, one advantage an in-person interview has is the employer gets to physically meet you…shake your hand, and see one on one just how the chemistry works.

All of these things, which might seem rather insignificant in the moment, are actually critical parts of any interview.

When you’re interviewing via phone, you’re going to have to work even harder to make sure you are coming off as personable, capable, and above all…the perfect candidate.

So how do you prepare for this bold new frontier of employment screening? Luckily almost all of the standard rules from in person interviews still apply, so the basic prep work is essentially the same but there are some tips specific to phone interviews than can really be of help:

8 Phone Interview Tips

 1. Take It As Seriously As An In Person Interview

THIS IS AN INTERVIEW! Treat it like one! That means be ready! Make sure you’re well rested. The last thing an interviewer wants to do is feel as though they’re interrupting something else you’re doing, or worse, woken you up.

When your interview is first scheduled, make sure you set aside time BEFORE the interview to prep for it.

If it’s an early morning interview, make sure you’re “going” before the phone rings.

Get up, get moving.

Get your vocal cords warmed up. Brew a cup of coffee or tea and be ready for your day. Brush your teeth!

Speaking of getting up and going…that means changing out of your jammies too.

But they’re so comfortable!

No. No. No. No.

This is just as much a mental game as a physical game and dressing the part (even if they can’t see you) can really help you kick your mind into the right frame to get you the job. If you’re slouching around and being lazy, it will come through in your interview…even if you’re trying your hardest to fake it. Trust us, interviewers will know…

Dress the part…get the part.

JEFF'S TIP

If you get a phone call out of the blue and you think it could be for a phone interview, I would suggest letting it go to voice message, listening to the message, prepare for the phone interview appropriately and then call them back ready to rock. - Or - If you do happen to answer the phone unknowingly, let the interviewer know that you aren't able to speak freely and ask if you can schedule a time for the call. DON'T TRY AND WING IT!

2. Focus And Cut Out All Distractions

Make sure you’re not distracted. Turn off the TV. Let me repeat that. TURN OFF THE TV.

Nobody wants to ask you about your past performances and work history and hear Sponge Bob in the background.   Don’t think putting it on mute is good enough either. People can tell if you’re distracted and delaying your answers to a potential employer because you’re reading the crawler at the bottom of FOX News isn’t going to score you any points.

Get comfortable, but don’t get too comfortable.

Find a good spot to sit down and have all your prep materials nearby for easy access.

Sit at the kitchen table or at a desk.

Don’t lay down. Don’t slouch. Make sure distractions are not going to be an issue.

If you’re doing the interview at home and you’re not alone, make sure everyone knows you’re going to be busy for a bit and to give you some privacy. Put the dogs outside. Pop in a video for the kids. Have your spouse keep everyone calm. At the very least go into a room where you can shut the door and focus on the task at hand.

So, now that you’re up and dressed, let’s get ready for that interview!

First and foremost, make sure you’re presenting yourself in the most professional way possible, from the very first “Hello,” all the way to the “Goodbye.”

3. Do Some Research Before The Interview

Odds are you’ve applied to more than one company and it’s always helpful to know a bit about who you’re talking to, from both a professional and a business standpoint.

Double check the job description you’re interviewing for.

Google the company. See how they’re doing and what they’re doing.

If you know who’s doing your interview you can see what sort of digital footprint they have and find out more about them on a personal level. Look them up on LinkedIn but don’t go overboard.

It’s never a good idea to send them a Facebook Friend Request before you even have the interview…in fact, it’s probably not a good idea afterwards either. Maybe in six months when you’ve already got the job and you’re all good friends having lunch twice a week…but not yet.

The best part about doing this research is it also allows you to tailor your answers when you start getting hit with those interview questions.

Tailoring your answers is the best possible way to ensure that not only are you satisfying what the interviewer is asking, you’re positioning yourself to be the best possible candidate for the job…or, dare we say…the perfect candidate!

Remember as you’re pouring over all those notes you culled about the company and what they stand for that your ultimate goal is to be everything they need in a candidate and that means making sure your answers are specific, targeted and tailored…in a nutshell, customized.

They’re looking for a specific set of knowledge, skills and abilities and it’s the person that embodies all of these that is going to get the job…and if you tailor your answers and show that you’re (honestly) that person…well, then…welcome to your new career!

Need a refresher on tailoring? Check out our Job Interview Questions and Answers 101” article. Trust us, you’ll thank us later!

Before you continue, be sure to get our phone interview questions and answers cheat sheet. In it you’ll get word-for-word sample answers that you can use on your next phone interview. Click here to get the cheat sheet.

4. Listen And Don’t Dominate The Conversation

Yes, this is an interview which means they’re going to be asking you questions, but it’s also an opportunity to show your potential employer that you’re good at listening too.

Talk, but don’t dominate the conversation. Let the interviewer guide the conversation.

Answer the questions, but don’t turn it into a one sided monologue. This is as much about you getting to know them as it is about them getting to know you.

Keep a pencil and paper nearby so you can jot