How to Prepare for your First Phone Interview
Phone interviews are a common way for companies to screen applicants, so make sure you leave a good impression or else you might not get in for a face-to-face meeting. Even though your interviewer can’t see you, he or she can learn pretty quickly whether you’re prepared or not. Here are some recommendations to help you ace this first step:
Prepare for the phone call like you would for a face-to-face interview
Get up, get moving, shower, dress well and warm up your voice before the phone call the same way you would for a physical meeting. Your appearance will give you an extra boost of confidence. This can even improve how your voice sounds over the phone and will ensure that you don’t sound like you just got out of bed.
It can help to sit in front of a mirror. You’ll notice your facial queues, which translate over the phone via your voice. You will also have someone to interact with visually during the phone interview. It might seem awkward but you will want to let your personality show through the phone.
Answer the phone sitting up straight or standing. Laying down or getting to comfortable will constrict your air flow and change the tone of your voice. It can also lead you to be less professional in your conversation.
Be sure to find a quiet area (no pets) where you can have your materials laid out in front of you. While the latest smart phones and earpieces can block out a lot of background noises, barking dogs and kids can distract you from the task at-hand. It is also difficult to layout your resume, portfolio and laptop without worrying about someone spilling their coffee on you, a gust of wind blowing your papers around or running out of battery power.
Have a copy of your resume (make sure that it is the one you submitted for the job), a copy of the job posting and the job description printed; with your notes – highlight the points in the job description that align to your resume and the ones that you want to address. You can even have resources such as the company’s website up and notes for anticipated questions in front of you, since the other person won’t be able to see. Remember that hiring managers and recruiters expect you to be prepared for a phone interview, so make sure to do thorough research beforehand.
Don’t assume your interviewer only wants a few minutes of your time. Make sure you have set aside ample time before and after the set interview. Inform those that communicate with you often (significant others, family, friends) of your interview schedule so they don’t disrupt the call. To be safe, U.S. News & World Report recommends disabling distracting phone alerts and using a landline whenever possible to minimize the chance of losing the signal.
If you live with others, make sure they are aware of when you are interviewing over the phone so that they won’t be disruptive. If you have to get out of the house to do your interview, sit in your car or see if your local library or college has private study rooms that you can borrow.
No matter how many times you’ve heard it, remember it’s always best practice to send a thank-you note. After a phone interview, emailing a quick thank you and summary of the conversation to the person or people to which you were talking makes a big impact. Follow up as soon as possible. Send an email within an hour or two, and if you’re sending a handwritten note, make sure it gets in the mail by the end of the day.