How to Ace a Phone Interview


When searching for a job, there are typically several steps before securing a new position. In the interview process, there can be one interview, multiple, or even a conversation on the phone. As part of the preliminary screening process, phone interviews help employers narrow a large pool of candidates quickly, which saves them time to meet in-person with people who have met the initial criteria. Without body language cues and communication signals that guide face-to-face interactions, it is essential to be prepared for the phone call. From practicing, paying attention to your environment to note-taking, there are many ways to ensure success. Here are tips to ace a phone interview, and get one step closer to your dream job.

Do Your Homework
Much like an in-person interview, it’s important to do your research on the company. Phone screenings help businesses narrow down candidates fast, and one way they do this is by seeing if the applicant knows anything about the company. You want to present yourself as knowledgeable and informed. If you are confident, it will translate in your voice and tone during a call. Look into the background of a corporation, including its mission, goals, and values. It is also helpful to note landmark moments in their history, such as new initiatives, programs, and successes in the market. Not only does name recollection and knowing facts and statistics prove that you are interested, but it also demonstrates that you are prepared despite not meeting in person.

Evaluate Your Surroundings
Unfortunately, there are many unintentional ways to derail a phone interview, most of which involve technology and your surroundings. To prevent an embarrassing snafu that can distract from the conversation, plan in advance to take the call. One way to safeguard against cellphone pitfalls is to make sure your phone is working and charged. Most people do not have access to a landline, but if you do, always choose that over a cell. If you’re stuck with your smartphone, consider taking the call in a car, where you can connect an aux cord to the speakers for extra amplification. If you take the call at home, put away the dog, have someone watch the kids, and silence any music, television, or noisy disturbances.

Listen, Think, Respond
It can sometimes seem nerve-wracking when being interviewed over the phone. Without body language and other non-verbal cues, you may feel unsure about your delivery. A best practice is to use active listening techniques and allow yourself time to formulate a response. It is beneficial to take time to produce an educated remark, as opposed to answering poorly if you perceive that there is time crunch. Another benefit of pausing before you speak is that it allows you to condense your answer. Keep dialogue short and concise; rambling will make you seem nervous and uncertain. In these situations, employers gravitate toward confidence.

Resumes & Notetaking
Just as you should always bring your resume and cover letter for a face-to-face interview, you should also adhere to the same practice even when on the phone. The employer will likely want to review your experiences and qualifications. In this type of screening, they may ask you to explain each point straight off of the paper. Also, if you have applied to multiple jobs, be sure that you have the same copy of the document that you submitted, in instances where they varied. Just like any other interview process, it is a good idea to take notes. Items that you jot down can come in handy later, and your interest in the position will be apparent to the employer when you meet in person.

Are you looking to advance your career? Goodwill provides no-cost career services for anyone seeking employment or a higher-paying job. We offer job seekers the tools and resources to feel confident, purpose-driven, and successful. Goodwill’s My Career Advisor is the best place to start if you’re planning for the future. Signing up is quick, easy, and free.

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