July 18th, 2018

How to Shine in a Phone Interview

The moment has come: you’ve lined up multiple phone interviews and are about to take an important next step along the road to recruitment.

Most likely, your potential employer will use this conversation to whittle down a list of candidates. Are you prepared to maximize the minutes you have and convince that hiring manager you’re an invaluable asset? Follow these five best practices to make sure you shine.

Do Your Homework

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” This strategy lends itself well to the interview process, too.

Preparation is everything, so before you pick up the phone, chat with your recruiter about the unique qualities of the business you’re applying to. Discuss its current challenges, and note the recent successes the organization has had. Everything you learn from your recruiter can become fodder for your upcoming discussion.

Looking to shine in your next phone interview? These tips can help. via @ajilon: https://ajilon.co/2L9f7DO

Prepare Your Space

As is the case with any interview, your goal should be to appear composed and focused. Spotty cellular service or a barking dog in the background can throw a wrench in the works — fast.

Prior to starting your call, go someplace quiet where you can concentrate without interruptions. If there’s any possibility that your cell service won’t be reliable, opt for a land line instead of your mobile phone. Give yourself plenty of time with the interviewer by keeping your schedule for that day open, and mute all phone and laptop notifications so incoming texts and social media alerts don’t distract you. Even if you’re perfect for the job, fully prepared, and have nerves of steel, it’s wise to create an environment that’s conducive to success.

Listen Up and Speak Powerfully

This may sound like a no-brainer, but listening carefully during your call is vital. When the time comes for that much-anticipated conversation, many candidates find themselves rushing to supply answers without fully absorbing the questions being asked. Allow the hiring manager to finish talking before you reply, and ask for clarification if you need it. This is your time, so use it to your advantage by ensuring every answer you provide is relevant.

When it’s your turn to talk, take the advice of Julian Treasure, author of the book How to be Heard: Secrets for Powerful Speaking and Listening, and avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of Speaking, which include passing the blame, exaggeration, and confusing your opinion with fact. Instead, be honest and authentic, show integrity, and demonstrate that you ultimately wish everyone well — your former boss included. This approach will ensure the interviewer listens to you, too.

Take Notes

When you’re on your call, don’t forget to take notes. Additional information about the position, aspects of the work you’re unfamiliar with, client projects mentioned by the interviewer…all of these serve as valuable reference points that can help you prepare for the next phase of the interview process.

Note-taking will keep you on your toes and require you to ask questions that display your enthusiasm for gaining a thorough understanding of the job. You can then use what you learn to craft a personalized thank you, thus allowing you to demonstrate a desirable ability to retain and reiterate key insights and facts.


What’s the point of smiling during a phone interview, you ask? According to one academic study on the effects of smiling on speech, “A side effect of smiling is an alteration of the vocal tract, suggesting that during vocalization smiling may be heard as well as seen.”

For this reason, candidates should treat phone interviews as they would an in-person conversation and make every effort to convey happiness and a positivity attitude. Constant smiling isn’t necessary — and may even be perceived as nervousness — but infusing your voice with a smile is important; as stated in the study, “…People wishing to convey a positive, approachable, auditory impression, should smile while speaking.”

Even without the benefit of a face to face interaction, a phone interview can reveal a lot about you as a person and employee. Done right, it can leave your hiring manager with a memorable impression that jumpstarts the momentum in your job search.



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