Phone Interview

Passing Your Phone Interview With Flying Colors

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: I must not be doing well on phone-screening interviews, because I never move on to the next level. Can you help me with some surefire ways to do better?

A: You’re right to be concerned. It’s a given that you have to successfully complete a phone interview to get to your real goal: an in-person meeting with the hiring manager.

Phone interviews are usually brief (typically about 30 minutes), so you need to be prepared to make a good impression right off the bat. You should be able to clearly explain why you’re fit for this role and respond to questions about your skills with confidence.

Phone interviews have one major advantage: You can have the job posting, your resume, research about the organization, and any other material you think you might need in front of you for reference. You can’t do that in an in-person interview, so take full advantage of this opportunity. 

Do the phone interview in a quiet place with no distractions. Keep family members and pets away from you. Sit up straight: Even though the interviewer can’t see you, your voice will sound stronger if you’re sitting up straight with both feet on the floor. Be ready to start on time, and have some water handy in case your mouth gets dry. Answer the phone professionally.

Phone interviews are usually brief (typically about 30 minutes), so you need to be prepared to make a good impression right off the bat.

Be sure the phone you’re using has high-quality sound. You might want to ask a family member or trusted colleague to give you feedback on how your voice sounds on your phone before your interview. If you think it would help to boost your confidence, ask a colleague to let you practice a phone interview with him or her before your call.

 A few additional tips to keep in mind:

  • Smile as you talk—it comes across in your voice.
  • Use the recruiter’s name during the interview.
  • Don’t drink, chew gum, eat, or smoke during the interview.
  • Take notes.
  • Listen carefully to the question before responding.
  • Keep your answers short—one or two sentences is usually appropriate.
  • Have questions prepared for the interviewer.
  • Follow up with a thank-you message.

If you follow these suggestions and treat a phone-screening interview as seriously as you would an in-person interview, your prospects should improve.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR,The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook and the latest book—The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

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