Miscellaneous·5 min read

19 Tips to Nail Your Phone Interview — and Stand Out From the Crowd

Woman Talking On Phone Taking Notes
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
Aug 24, 2022

A phone interview is a common part of the job search process. The goal: To see if you’re qualified for the role (and identify any red flags). So putting your best foot forward is important. To help you do just that, we asked Lauren McGoodwin, founder and CEO of Career Contessa, and Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch, to spill the details on what you need to know before you accept. that. call. 

How do I prepare for my interview? 

The call is officially on your calendar. Let the prep begin. Here are some tips from Cohen and McGoodwin to help you get ready to make a great first impression.

Confirm the interview time: Verify the time of your call so you're not late.

Answer appropriately: When answering the phone, be sure to use your first name and introduce yourself, says McGoodwin. “I've had people who answer and just go 'hello' or 'hi,'" she explains. "Answer the phone saying 'Hi, this is [your name].'" 

Keep your resume close: It’s normal for your mind to go blank when you’re asked a question, says McGoodwin. But keeping your resume in front of you can make sure you touch on the important aspects of your career. Plus, how your skills relate to the position you’re interviewing for. 

Keep your environment quiet: Give the people you live with a head’s up that you’re about to hop on an interview call, says McGoodwin. And keep any electronics turned off or on silent. “Do Not Disturb” mode is a life-saver.

Stay professional: Remain kind and respectful throughout the interview. And be sure to sound excited about the opportunity, too. Smiling, even during a call, can help make sure you sound positive.

Don’t chew gum or eat: Keep a glass of water on hand in case you need it. But chewing during an interview could be interpreted as disrespectful. 

How can I stand out from other candidates? 

According to Cohen and McGoodwin, here’s what you need to know to be the star candidate.

Practice: “Because it’s audio only, practicing your answers by recording them on your phone can be a great training tool to refine your phone presence,” Cohen said. The more interview practice you get in, the more confident you’ll feel. 

Prep a resource sheet: If there’s anything you want to mention during your interview, be sure to have notes by your side. They can come in handy when remembering to bring up a certain topic while answering an interviewer’s question, says Cohen.  

Also, Cohen recommends scripting out answers to common interview questions. Sharing stories from your previous job and volunteer experience is a plus. But practice using your notes ahead of the call, so it doesn’t sound like you’re just reading straight from the page. 

Take notes throughout the call: Have materials handy to take notes when your interviewer says anything important that you want to remember after you hang up. 

Ask your interviewer questions, too: Don’t sit back and only answer when the interviewer asks you a question. Ask questions. Like, “What qualities are you looking for in a potential employee?” Remember: You want to make sure this role is a fit for you, too. 

Got it. Any other interview tips I should be aware of?

Beyond the phone interview, you can follow these handy tips for any interview that comes your way.

Be clear and concise: Especially when answering common questions like, “Why do you want to work here?” Talk about what you can offer to the company by joining, rather than what the company can do for you, recommends McGoodwin. 

Research the company: Make sure to not only know the deets about the job you want, but the company as well, says McGoodwin. That way, you can show how interested you are in the position and how your values align with the company’s culture. 

Watch interviews: The advice and recommendations for celeb interviews can be applied to job interviews too, says Cohen. Think: “Talking in soundbites, practicing concise answers, staying on topic, and also…what to do when you don’t know the answer,” explains Cohen. 

Dress up: Even if the company you’re applying for has a laid-back culture, coming in professional attire for an in-person interview is best, says McGoodwin. It can help you present the most confident version of yourself. 

Document your milestone moments: Whether it's positive or negative, document whenever you learn something important, recommends Cohen. That way, you can hone your interviewing skills. 

How can I make sure my interviewer remembers me?

You may have hung up, but your interview isn’t over just yet. Use these tips to stand out from other applicants even after the call is over. 

Ask questions: Yes, even after the interview. You have the opportunity to ask your interviewer anything about the job or position. Take advantage of that opportunity, says McGoodwin. 

Confirm next steps: This helps you look interested in the company and the role. And will let you know what to expect next in the interview process. 

Send a thank you email: Within 24 hours, says McGoodwin. Thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the position. 

Follow up: If you don’t hear back from your interviewer after a week, consider reaching out to them. Even if they’re still interviewing other candidates, it can give you an idea of where you stand. 

theSkimm 

Preparing for a phone interview can help put your nerves at ease. And can help make sure you showcase your best self to your interviewer. So take a deep breath, smile, and answer that call. You’ve got this.

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