The phone interview is a means that companies use to filter applications. Thus, the questions will be directed to those aspects that are important to meet the requirements of the position offered and to assess the professional concerns and motivations of the candidate. The requirements that can be questioned in this first interaction can be from professional experience, training or language level to the salary expectations of the candidate.
For you, as a candidate, the purpose of a phone interview is to confirm that you are the right candidate for the position you applied for and that you deserve to go on to the next selection stage with other candidates.
For the representative of the human resources department, the purpose is to ensure through a discussion that you are one of the candidates who meets the relevant criteria to occupy the future position in the organization. Through his or her questions, the HR representative of the company consciously selects the candidates that qualify for the classic face-to-face or online job interview .
How to successfully prepare for a phone interview?
It may happen that you receive a phone call from the employer, who wants to ask you something on the spot. In this case, you may not be prepared, nor may have had time to learn a lot about the company you applied to.
Do not be afraid to politely ask to come back with a phone call on a date you set, by mutual agreement, after you have suggested that it is not the best time for the interview. Such a solution is even more valuable when you have applied for more jobs and, upon receiving the phone call, you do not know exactly what is the role offered by the company. A phone interview set for a certain date gives you the opportunity to do the necessary research regarding the company and the job.
Take care of all the details and, mainly, be prepared to take a call that can arrive at any time. You should take advantage of this first exchange of words so that the interviewer knows that he has found the best candidate. For this to happen, pay attention to the following aspects:
Before the interview
1. Read the job announcement carefully and look for the criteria that the employer is looking to validate through a first interaction with you. Therefore, take a look at the old projects that you worked on and what were the tasks, responsibilities, but also the success of your previous work, when you have already proven your professional competence.
2. Search information about the company you are going to have that phone conversation with. You may not need as much information as in the face-to-face interview, but you certainly need to know the industry, the specifics of the company and some information to show that you are interested in this opportunity.
3. Find a space, a room in which during the discussion you will not be disturbed, you will not be in an environment with background noise (e.g. on city streets). If you are in your home space, make sure you are in an area where you have no difficulty with the signal. There is nothing more frustrating for an interviewer, who has a structured interview guide, to have to repeatedly ask the same question over and over again because they cannot understand your answer due to poor signal or communication. Do a test call to a friend beforehand, or you can even call yourself from another phone if necessary.
Have everything you need at hand: The advantage of telephone interviews is that your interlocutor does not know what you are doing. Therefore, you can consult all the documents you want as your resume, a piece of paper and a pen - to take notes or to write down relevant information during the interview: job characteristics, names, e-mail, company data. All these are details that can help you in the next stage of the interview.
Make a list of the most frequently asked questions that are discussed in job interviews and the answers to each one. You don't have to recite them, but read them in case you don't know what to say or if you forget.
Practice talking on the phone: Some people really excel at it, while others get nervous. If you are in the latter category, it would be beneficial if a friend calls you for a practice interview over the phone! Practicing your interview skills will make you that much more marketable in the job market.
During the interview
If an interviewer calls you, it means that your resume has caught their attention. But surely so have the profiles of many other candidates, so you must convey your motivation and convince them that you really are the right person for the position. Provide direct and clear answers related to the questions asked. Doubt, belated replies or stuttering are factors that will make you lose points to other candidates.
Do not dwell on revealing everything you know, have done or have studied, but rather try to highlight aspects that may differentiate you from others and are related to the particularities of the company and the position. Think that the little details can also help you stand out, such as playing a high-level sport or volunteering for an organisation. This says as much about you as your diploma or professional experience.
Also, unlike what happens in the physical interview, your interviewer will be totally focused on your voice. He will remember all the details of what you say much better!
Use the right tone of voice
Do you tend to speak too loudly or too slowly? Do you speak too fast or, on the contrary, too slow? It is important that you sound well on the phone, as if it were a physical interview. If you are sitting: stay upright in the chair, as if you were in front of the interviewer (if you do the interview lying on the couch, it will show in your voice). Use headphones and everything will be easier: you will have your hands free to take notes and be able to unleash your body language.
Be dynamic, but calm. Pause to pace your speech and vary the volume of your voice. Try to vocalize well and sound professional: your message should be clear and your voice fluent and understandable. Finally, you have probably already heard that the smile is heard on the phone, so smile! If you do, what you say will have the greatest impact.
Have a dialogue with your interviewer
Don’t just limit yourself to giving answers, try to develop a dialogue that helps you connect to your interviewer. When we are stressed or nervous, we tend to focus on our own speech and speak very fast. We try to avoid silences at all costs, but that way we forget the most important thing: the interview should be an exchange of information. Even if you really want to answer right away, we advise you to listen to the person interviewing you, think calmly, and remain focused. This way you will avoid making a mistake that can be definitive: cutting off their word. Silences do not have to be bad, on the contrary, they allow shaping the interview. By interpreting these silences, you may even be able to detect more easily which of your experiences interests your interviewer the most or, on the contrary, to know what is wrong, and to adapt your speech accordingly.
It is essential to actively listen to your interviewer, do not get distracted, focus on your phone conversation, forget about your surroundings and do not interrupt and answer while the other party is still talking. Interrupting people a lot is disrespectful and it is easy to happen in a telephone interview since, by not having eye contact, it is more difficult to predict when someone has finished speaking or not. To avoid interrupting the interviewer, wait a couple of seconds when you think they have finished to make sure, before beginning to answer. Listening also means being proactive, caring, and reacting by asking questions. Prepare them! They also have to convince you, so ask everything you need to be able to reflect and make a decision later on.
Have good manners
The fact that your interviewer does not see you does not mean that you can neglect the forms. Avoid doing anything you wouldn't do in a face-to-face interview, such as eating, chewing gum, getting distracted by social media, or talking to your friends. The interviewer may notice that you are distracted and it is not convenient.
Properly close the interview
At the end of the discussion, the recruiter will normally give you information about what will happen next. This is also the time for you to ask 2-3 questions about what would be the next steps in the selection process, and what would follow if you were one of the accepted candidates. Remember to thank the interviewer for taking the time and sharing more information about the offer and the company in general. Express your interest in the position and find out about the next phase if the interviewer hasn't mentioned anything to you.
After the interview
Summarize notes: After you hang up the phone, review your notes and score a few points related to things that you felt you did well and others that you could work on. Like this, you will be able to better prepare for future interviews.
Send a thank you note: Wait at least two days before sending a short thank you email to your interviewer. Show your enthusiasm for the position with a line or two about what stands out about the job or company and how your profile matches it.
Consider whether the position is a good fit for you: After discussing the position with someone from the company, does it sound like a good fit? Is it worth your time and effort to continue the interview process if you are selected for the next round?
The phone interview has become an unavoidable part of the job interview process. Being prepared to pass these interviews will assist you in successfully landing the job you are seeking.