Nail the Interview

Top Phone Interview Questions and Tips

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Phone interviews have become very popular as the first interview in the hiring process.  Companies are overwhelmed with hundreds of submissions of applicants for each position posted online. How people work in the job market has changed so much that, if you plan to telecommute, there is a strong chance that you may never set foot inside a company’s headquarters. Communicating by phone, email, and webcam may be the only means of communication you ever use.

Once you know the details of your telephone interview (company, hiring manager, etc.) it’s time to do your homework. Now is the time to find out every detail possible, from what the company does, how they do it, and why, right down to dress code if you can.Click To Tweet

Regardless of whether you plan on working from home or an office, you will likely participate in a phone interview before an in-person interview. So, how do you ensure that your phone interview will lead to landing the job or that important second interview? Here are seven tips for knocking your next phone interview out of the park.

Check Your Connection:

You are one of hundreds of applicants. Don’t give the interviewer any reason to decide to move on to the next person in the queue. That means making sure that your phone reception is up to par. Use a landline rather than your cellphone. It might be old-fashioned, but those copper wires are much more reliable than your cell phone. If you can’t use a landline, have a trial run a few days before to ensure you have a good signal where you will be taking the call.

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Be Prepared to Interview:

Preparation is everything. What would you take to an in-person interview? That is exactly what you should have on hand when the phone rings. The real advantage of telephone interviews is that you can have whatever you want in front of you as a reference.  This includes background on the company, a copy of the job description, and make sure you have a copy of your resume and a pen and paper in front of you as well. It does not hurt to reread your resume and highlight areas of your experience that align with the job description.

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Cut out the Distractions:

Whether you are doing your interview at home or in a remote location, try to cut down all outside noise.  As indicated above, you should have a trial run to see what noises or issues may be present when you have a real telephone interview. Interviewers do not want to struggle to be heard over a vacuum, a barking dog, or a screaming child. Shut the door and turn off the TV before its time for your interview. If you must take your call outside of your home, try to find a quiet place where you can talk without too much background noise and where you can discuss confidential information (such as your compensation). Don’t give your interviewer any reason to cut the interview short.


Speak Clearly:

One huge disadvantage of telephone interviews is the lack of body language (both yours and the interviewer’s). People hear with their eyes as well as their ears and for this interview, what you and the interviewer hear is it. People instinctively read lips while others are speaking. For obvious reasons, the interviewer cannot read your lips over the phone. Make sure that you are speaking clearly and distinctly during your interview. It doesn’t hurt to ask, “Can you hear me alright?” at the beginning of the interview.

“Where you are when you have your telephone interview is as important as how well you prepare. Ensure you are in a quiet location (no dogs barking or babies crying). While you may think you have a great location, do a dry run and visit the location at the same time of day as the telephone interview. This will allow you to check out everything prior to your call.” – 7 Tips for Successful Telephone Interviews

Don’t Eat While on the Call:

This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised by what some people do. You should not eat while on the telephone interview. Not only is it rude, but the sounds of chewing and swallowing will definitely not help you get the job. You wouldn’t bring a sandwich to an in-person interview, so you should not bring one to a phone interview. That’s not to say you cannot eat before the interview. Eating a snack beforehand can help you to maintain focus during the interview. It’s also a good idea to go ahead and use the restroom before your interview if you anticipate the interview taking a while.

Be Professional:

Don’t speak badly of your current employer. The interviewer knows you have reasons for looking for new employment. Let your reasons be about the interview.

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Be Prepared to Ask Questions:

An interview is not a one-way conversation. Yes, the interviewer will drive the conversation, but you should be prepared to ask your own questions about the position and the company. Do not be afraid to ask about your duties, company culture, and the company’s plans for the future. Asking pertinent questions shows initiative and makes you stand out. Be careful when broaching the subject of compensation and company benefits. That is better left until after you have an offer in hand.

Interview Questions to Ask

What are your expectations for the person you are hiring?
What kinds of training opportunities are available?
How would you describe the corporate atmosphere?
How do you see m fitting in with the other employees?
Could you tell me the next step in the process?
What kinds of training opportunities are available?
Is this a new role or is this a replacement?
Are there weeks or months that will be much busier than other times?
What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
How will I be trained?

The important thing to remember when interviewing over the phone is that it is an interview. Don’t do anything over the phone you would not do in person. If you keep that in mind, you will not have any problem avoiding costly mistakes and knocking your next phone interview out of the park.

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