Companies are increasingly using phone interviews to screen through the job candidates who submit their resumes. Most companies may only choose a handful of people to interview over the phone, and only a few of those will go on to have an in-person interview or get the job. Because phone interviews are surprisingly different from in-person interviews, many people need some tips to help them succeed during their interview.

On the Phone

Most companies will schedule the phone interview via email or a hiring service, though some may initiate and schedule the interview over an initial phone call. It’s important for the person who is applying for the job to answer the phone. There is no shame in not being available if the phone call comes at an inconvenient moment, but being courteous is essential. A minor statement of, “I’m sorry, but I wasn’t expecting this call, and I won’t be able to give the call my full attention. Can we reschedule?” shows respect and asking to reschedule confirms interest.

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Research the Company

There is no reason to go into a phone interview without proper knowledge of the company or the interviewer. There are many methods anyone can use to collect information about the company they wish to work for. Many interviewers ask questions such as, “What do you know about our company?” Usually, the interviewer is looking for a couple of possible answers, such as the company’s target market or demographic, their goals, or their key figures.

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Prepare Questions

A vast majority of people who perform a job interview follow some sort of plan or outline to guide them through the interview. At some point, most interviews ask if the potential hire has any questions. It can be difficult to think of these on the spot, so preparing them ahead of time can be helpful. Possible questions to ask include:

  • How do employees receive feedback on their work?
  • What is the most challenging part of the job?
  • What’s the company culture like?
  • What are the expectations for this position?

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Review Qualifications

Usually, when hiring for a position, a company places a job listing that has a list of qualifications they expect all potential hires to meet. Before a phone interview, job seekers should review the qualifications for the job and the resume they submitted. Finding ways to include these qualifications in the phone interview can ensure the interview is a success. Additionally, not everyone will meet every expectation, but that doesn’t disqualify them from getting the position. In fact, an applicant who finds a way to explain how they can gain that experience or how they expect to compensate for it looks appealing to many hiring interviewers.

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Prepare a Cheat Sheet and Take Notes

There are some benefits to phone interviews in comparison with in-person interviews. Namely, neither participant can see the other. This means that it is possible to keep a cheat sheet on hand with answers to possible questions and information on the company. Additionally, taking notes during the call can allow for callbacks to previous questions or given information. This shows interest and initiative. However, the interviewer can still hear everything that happens on the other line, so limiting paper rustling is essential.

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Keep Paperwork On Hand

It can be difficult for even the most prepared person to accurately remember every detail that may come up during a job interview. To counteract this, a job applicant should prepare all the paperwork they may require prior to their phone interview. Personal documents such as a driver’s license, social security card, or passport may be necessary to confirm personal details during the call. Additional paperwork that may be beneficial includes a list of references and their phone numbers, as well as copies of any paperwork the company asked for prior to the call.

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Dress for Success

Because the interview isn’t happening in person, many people find it appealing to do the interview call in their pajamas or other comfortable clothes. However, this can have negative effects on the call. Namely, being too comfortable can prevent a person from being in the right mindset for the interview. Job seekers should treat an interview as a job itself and act accordingly. By dressing as they would for work, an applicant puts their mind in the right place and is more likely to treat the interview with the respect it requires.

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Suitable Environment

As important as it is to dress well for the phone interview, it is even more important to ensure there is a suitable area for the phone interview. When choosing a place to take the interview, there are a few factors to consider: sound level, comfort level, free space, and the number of distractions. Background noise such as television sounds or children yelling is not going to give an interviewer a good impression. Additionally, being comfortable during the interview is fine, but as with clothes, being too comfortable can prevent the applicant from being in the right mindset. Finally, there should be no distractions in the immediate vicinity. Listening to the interviewer is important, and it’s unprofessional to miss information.

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Practice Interviews

One of the best ways to prepare for a phone interview is to practice having an interview. Applicants should find a list of possible questions an interviewer might ask and then find a partner to practice with. By doing this, the applicant ensures they have answers to questions ahead of time. In addition, not everyone is a strong speaker, but practicing can dramatically improve a person’s speaking ability. If a job seeker can’t find a person to practice with, it can be just as beneficial to simply record themselves speaking. Then, while listening back, they should make notes on what to change and repeat the process until the results please them.

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Go to the Bathroom Before You Start

Many people miss a step when preparing for a phone interview. A person should fulfill all of the responsibilities prior to the interview. The last thing a job seeker needs is other people barging into the interview space or multiple phone calls during the interview. However, this doesn’t just include chores or errands, but bodily responsibilities as well. Despite it being a normal function, an interviewer will probably consider it unprofessional if the person they’re interviewing has to use the bathroom in the middle of an interview.

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