- Stay focused and stay positive
- Do your homework on the job and the company
- Have your personal info readily on hand
- Have questions prepared
- Be prepared to discuss strengths and weaknesses
- Let them know if you are interested and send a “thank you”
Most hiring managers are opting for the initial phone interview as opposed to doing an onsite face to face meeting. I would like to outline a few key areas to enable you to get through this first hurdle and get to the face to face interview.
Keep a positive and focused
Phone interviews are the most difficult in that you don’t have that opportunity to connect with the person interviewing you as you would when you meet them face to face. Keep in mind on a phone interview there are only two things they can evaluate—the content of what you are saying and the tone of your voice. Your personality, energy, and drive need to come through in your tone of voice so you need to remember to be upbeat, engaging and positive. Remember they will be evaluating you from the moment you start that phone call. Also remember to not ramble or get off topic on tangents. It is much harder on a phone interview to detect that. When you are sitting across from someone it is much easier to detect if you are losing them—on a phone interview it is generally just silence at the other end.
Establishing a Target
In an ideal scenario, you would like to have the hiring manager speak first telling you about the company or the job. This allows you to sit back and listen for few minutes and also give you a target to direct your answers toward. It also enables you to see how the manager portrays the job. But if they jump right in and start asking questions then you need to be prepared. You should have done your research on the company and also reviewed the job description. Your role in the interview is not to regurgitate everything you have done in your career. Your objective is to pull out the parts of your background that are most applicable to this role. You ideally should be demonstrating how your background will help solve the problem they have.
One of the benefits of a phone interview is that you can have your resume right there by the phone. Be sure you have reviewed it and that you know all your dates and why you left each job.
Be prepared with questions. You should write down 8-10 job related question before you get on the phone call. These should be job related and this is not the time to be asking about benefits, hours, vacation, etc. Remember hiring managers will evaluate you by the types of questions you ask. The type of question you ask will give them an idea if you really understand what is important in the role you are interviewing for. Some of your questions will get answered during the interview but you always want to have some good questions for them.
Strengths and Weaknesses
These may or may not be asked during a phone interview but you need to be prepared. For strengths you should have 2-3 you can talk about and also have confirming examples. They will remember the strengths more if you can apply it to an example in your background. Also be sure to pick strengths that are in line with the role you are interviewing for. Weaknesses are more difficult. Ideally you do not want to disclose your weaknesses but you need to give an answer. Be prepared to give a weakness that can be turned around to be viewed as a strength. An example: “I tend to push myself quite a bit when I’m working and I have to remember that people around me may not want to work at that level. I can tend to be a bit of a workaholic at times”. Whatever you use you need to prepare for it ahead of time so it flows smoothly.
Closing the interview
You will intuitively get a sense when the interview is coming to a close. Be sure to keep the energy level just as high at the end as it was at the beginning. Also don’t assume they know you are interested in the position. You need to tell them you are very interested in the position and look forward to the next step in the process. When you get off the phone be sure to send an email thanking them for their time and reiterating why you are right for the position.