5 Basic Tips for Phone Interviews

Not all job interviews take place in person; especially during the early stages of the hiring process, a tech pro will likely have to speak to recruiters, HR staff, hiring managers, and even potential colleagues on the phone.

While phone interviews offer several advantages—you don’t need to dress up, for example, or commute to an office somewhere—they also pose a unique mix of challenges, especially for those who are relatively inexperienced in interviewing for jobs. With that in mind, here are some quick, top-level tips for preparing yourself:

Schedule Carefully

Make sure you arrange your schedule so you can take your call in a calm environment; build in some “flex time” at the end, in case the interview runs longer than you expect. You should avoid doing your interviews while driving or walking; the interviewer could hear ambient noise and conclude that, because you chose to squeeze the interview into a commute, that you’re not fully serious about the position.

Limit Distractions

It’s tempting to take a phone interview while sitting in front of your PC or tablet. How else will you look up things the interviewer asks you about? But interviewing in front of a screen can distract you from the questions, which could prove disastrous—you don’t want to sound inattentive.

Take Notes Beforehand

You can’t be completely sure which questions the interviewer will ask, but you can write down a couple of handy talking points for reference during the talk. For example, list two or three projects where your skill set and experience made a positive difference; now you don’t need to frantically rack your brain for a good example of your work if the interviewer asks. You may also want to jot down your previous roles—sometimes it’s easy to confuse your personal timeline when you’re feeling nervous.

Know Your Interviewer (and Company)

In any kind of interview, due diligence pays off: Make sure you spend some time researching both your prospective employer and the interviewer before you pick up the phone. Knowing how your potential future company works is imperative; knowing personal details about your interviewer is less so, although picking up a few details about his or her background and personality is liable to make you less anxious during the interview.

Follow Through

Remember to follow the post-interview formalities: Send your interviewer a quick note thanking them for the time and opportunity, and be sure to ask whether they need any additional information from you. If you haven’t done so already, make sure you’ve sent the interviewer all your relevant materials, including your resume and any links to projects you’ve recently worked on.

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