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How to Prepare for Phone Interviews

Updated: Jan 1, 2020

PHONE INTERVIEWS—your first window of opportunity to land an actual job interview. If you are dreading to pick up the phone and worried you might say the wrong things, YOU ARE NOT ALONE in this. I had my fair share of failures in under or over selling myself during a phone interview. I wish I could tell you not to worry, however, having a little bit of jitters would make you sound organic and convince the person on the other line that you can thrive under pressure. This is exactly what the recruiter or the hiring manager is looking for—a unique balance between confidence and focus.

Do you remember the last time you had to stand up for a surprise recitation in school or perhaps that time you had to explain to a difficult customer that a particular request couldn't be granted because you need to follow corporate policy? That is the kind of pressure you could be in during a phone interview. I’ve always believed that victory loves preparation.

Read the TOP FIVE TIPS to a successful phone interview:

1. Set up a professional voicemail. If you have been sending out your resume online, it would be wise to set up a professionally sounding voicemail. This would definitely impress the recruiter or hiring manager. Record a brief, friendly and professional voice message and here’s an example “You have reached the confidential voicemail of Dwight Halpert. I am currently engaged at the moment, please leave your name, contact number and a brief message and I will return your call in the next 24 hours.” Easy right?

2. Research the company. Allow me to reiterate, preparation is key! Read the company profile of the top five companies that you have applied for. Chances are the recruiter or hiring manager would ask what you know about their company, their values, mission and vision, etc. They would like to know if you are as interested in the company as they are in hiring you. Comment on the company’s latest technological advancements, their leaders, strategic initiatives and clearly express why you would like to be a part of it. I usually review the core values and explain what resonates to me the most.

3. Let the hiring manager or recruiter leave a voice message. I know you’re excited to pick up that phone call, however, "slow and steady wins the race". Let the recruiter leave you a voicemail message, this gives you time to research further. However, don’t wait too long to return the call as it may be construed as lack of interest. If you are prepared and comfortable to take that phone call, then it’s time. Ensure that you are in a quiet environment and have a pen and paper within your reach. For some people, being able to write some notes during a phone interview brings out their creativity in solving problems; it can make your brain think better and more strategically.

4. Think before you answer a question. Whether you know the answer on top of your head or struggling to figure out what to say, allow for silence. Having a structured and well thought of answer will impress the recruiter or the hiring manager. Don’t be afraid to ask him or her to repeat the question, repeating the question also buys you some time to think of a clever answer. Prepare real-life stories and gravitate on how you emerged as a winner by following the STAR Technique (Situation, Task, Action and Result). They’re looking for past positive behaviours which could determine your future performance or results. Ensure that you have readily available real-life scenarios, speak the truth as the recruiter may redirect the question to verify the story, and they may also check your story with your supervisor.

5. Be upbeat and friendly sounding on the phone. Embrace the experience and try to make the phone interview a wonderful professional experience between you and the recruiter. You should feel excited and upbeat throughout the interview by making it conversational yet professional. Finding a balance would depend on your energy and enthusiasm to present your qualifications and learn more about the job.

Bonus Tips: At the end of the interview, remember to also ask a couple of questions like the timeline of the hiring process or how many people would you be working within a team environment or interdependently. Remember to thank the interviewer or hiring manager for their time. Gratitude always goes a long way.

If you would like to schedule a mock interview with me or would like to get a consultation on how to move your career forward, please book an appointment here. I think you’re ready!

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