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Phone Interviews – How to Prepare

An orange dial-up telephone on a brown desk.

Please note: We have published an updated version of this blog that reflects current hiring practices. You can find it here.

At FDM group we perform an initial phone interview with prospective canditates as one of the first stages of the application process. Read on for some advice on how to prepare for your phone interview.

Interviewing for a new job is tough. You know in the back of your mind that there are dozens, even hundreds of other applicants vying for the same open positions and that pressure can be a bit overwhelming. How do you stand out from the crowd? How do you earn a second interview? Here at FDM Group we conduct thousands of phone interviews each year as the first step in the interview process for our Graduate Programme and Ex-Forces Programme. In other words, we have a pretty good idea of what you need to do to make a great first impression. From our experts, this is how to prepare for a phone interview.

Research the company you’re applying for

A phone interview is normally the first time you’re speaking with your potential employer, so you’re going to be asked what you know about the company. Have an answer ready for this question. Know all about what the company does and who they work with, but also find something interesting about them to bring up that will stand out. Track their social media for up-to-date happenings in the company. Find press coverage of the company to see what others have written about them. By mentioning something interesting when you get this question you’ll stand out from others who have generic responses, and it will show your interviewer that you’ve really done your research.

The tone in your voice is everything

By interviewing over the phone, you leave out all visual aspects that can normally help make or break you. You can’t show confidence by walking through the door in a nice suit. You don’t get to show interest and intrigue with your body language while answering questions. It all comes down to the tone of your voice. Don’t go to a concert the night before and lose your voice singing at the top of your lungs. Have a glass of water next to you so you can refresh your throat. Make sure you SOUND confident and compelling in all of your answers because that’s the only aesthetic you have to make a great impression.

Take advantage of the fact that the interviewer can’t see you

Sure, you can’t use positive body language to your benefit over the phone, but there are some advantages to being out of sight. Prepare talking points on note cards. It’s almost like you have a cheat sheet right in front of you during the entire interview/ Just remember to make sure that you only use bullet points and not full sentences on your cheat sheet. Trust me, the interviewer can tell when you’re reading something word for word over the phone.

Also, make yourself comfortable. Wear clothes that make you feel good. Sit in your favourite chair or even lay in your bed if you really want – comfortable you is the best you.

Plan out where you will take the phone interview in advance

On that note, make sure you’re not curled up in your bed if you don’t get cell reception in your room. Picking the proper location for your phone interview may seem trivial, but it really is important. I once decided to take a phone interview in a park. It was a nice day so I figured why not? This was a plan that clearly I didn’t think through. Speaking over the traffic of the cars driving by, the sirens of an ambulance, a baby crying and the dogs barking made it incredibly difficult to communicate properly. Here are some factors to consider when picking a location for a phone interview:

  • Noise – Make sure it’s quiet. You don’t want to have to yell over the surrounding noise or ask your interviewer to repeat a question because you couldn’t hear.
  • Comfort – Don’t take an interview outside if it’s freezing cold. By the end of it you’ll be miserable and want it to be over so you can get back inside.
  • Reception – Nothing will ruin a great interview faster than dropping a call.

Be ready to ask questions… Just not stupid questions

Asking questions is important in any interview – it shows an eagerness to learn more and a natural curiosity about the job/company. Bonus points if you can ask a question about something that came up in the interview. That shows that it’s not just another stock question you had planned out but rather that you were listening and deeply engaged in the conversation. Don’t, however, ask something foolish. FDM conducts thousands of interviews every year, and we’ve heard them all:

  • Would you mind holding on while I use the toilet? -- Don’t find yourself in this situation. Go before your scheduled call.
  • How much holiday time do I get? -- Now you sound like you only care what the company can do for you. There’s a time and place for this, and it’s not while you’re making your first impression.
  • Would you like to go to a barbeque with me this weekend? – You’re in an interview, not at a party. Be sure to maintain professionalism.

If this all seems pretty simple and easy, that’s because it is. Don’t make your phone interview harder than it has to be by not preparing properly. Do you have any tips for nailing the perfect phone interview? Tell us more on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured image credit: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

24 March, 2015

 

About Afshan Munir


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