How To Ace Your Phone Interview

I recently spoke with a job seeker who was having trouble getting beyond initial phone interviews and thought it would be helpful to share strategies.  Read more below…

Phone interviews may be difficult from the point of view of the applicant as you cannot see your interlocutor and get the much-needed facial feedback to guide your answers, but they are very convenient for companies.  Since they receive such high numbers of applications, it’s not possible to conduct face-to-face interviews for everyone, and screening candidates via an initial set of questions asked over the phone has come to be necessary.

The quality of your answers can make or break you chances of being invited to the company headquarters so the best approach is to give it as much importance as you would a regular interview and prepare in advance.

What Questions Should You Expect?

Since the aim of a phone interview is to filter out risky candidates, the questions are usually along the lines of “Who are you?” “Why do you want such a position?” And “Why here?”  There is, of course, the possibility that you will be asked more complex questions, depending on how many CV’s they have to get through, but considering the medium you’ll see that these examples are not that basic.  Patrick Algrim, CEO at mentioned to us that, “The most tricky interview questions are ‘describe yourself’, ‘what do you know about our company’ and ‘what are your greatest strengths’.”  You can expect to be asked about you background, your interest in the company, what your current job responsibilities are, why you’re looking to change jobs, what type of environments do you prefer to work in and what makes you a good fit for this particular company and position.

How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

In most cases, you will be notified in advance either by email or phone of a date and time at which you can expect to be called but there are cases in which you just receive a surprise call asking you if you’re available right then.  If they have really caught you at a bad time, don’t be afraid to tell them that although you’re thrilled to hear from them, you are not at your desk and cannot give the call the attention it deserves. Then try to reschedule.  In the case of scheduled interviews, you should first research the company and if anyone has written about previous experiences interviewing with them and what type of questions they were asked.  If you’ve never had to give an interview over the phone, it could be useful to call a friend and practice answering the questions.  Check if you have the right schedule and make sure you’re clear on whether you have to wait for them to call or you have to do it.

Also take care that you create a suitable environment that allows you to talk at ease, so eliminate any background noise by closing the windows, put any devices you have on silent and, if you’re living with other people, tell them not to disturb you. Have a glass of water handy and you could also print out your cv, possible questions and answers to help you in case you get nervous.

After you ace the phone interview, then it’s time to prepare for an in-person interview.  In those cases, it’s good to focus on proper etiquette as well as to always be prepared for the unexpected.  Cheers to a successful phone interview and continuing the process to landing your dream job.

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