How to Prepare for a Telephone Interview

Telephone interviews can be tricky.  Because you can do the interview in the comfort of your own home, many job seekers don’t take them seriously.  This is a mistake.  Employers use telephone interviews to screen out applicants who are not qualified or are not a good fit for the organization.  If you don’t impress the employer in the phone interview, you will never have the opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise in person.  Here are some tips that will help you prepare for a telephone interview:

Research the job and the company.  If you want to perform well in the the interview, you need to spend some time researching both the company and the position.  Through your research, you will find out the company’s priorities and values, which you can focus on in the interview.  By getting a thorough understanding of the position, you are better able to demonstrate how your skills and experience make you a good fit for the job.   

Choose an interview space that is quiet and free from distractions.  It is important that you find a room for your interview where you can be away from children, animals, your spouse, the television, and any other distraction.  If you are not completely focused on your interview, you will come across as disinterested or unqualified.   

Have your resume and the job description ready.  One big advantage that you have in telephone interviews is the opportunity to discreetly look at your resume and the job description while you are answering the interviewer’s questions.  This allows you to provide specific and detailed answers that will impress the employer.  Be sure that you have these documents ready so that you don’t waste this opportunity.

Have a pen and paper handy.  The interviewer may provide you with useful information, or they may use a term that you want to research later.  If they decide to schedule you for an in-person interview, they could give you a date and time and even directions of where to meet them.  To ensure that you don’t forget any of these details, have a pen and a pad of paper ready so that you can write it all down.

Prepare for common interview questions.  While an interviewer can always throw you a curve ball, there are common questions are often asked.  If you are prepared to answer these questions well, you will be more confident and able to impress the employer, which will make it easier for you to recover if one of the interviewer’s questions throws you through a loop.  Here are some examples of common telephone interview questions: Why are you interested in this position?; How did you hear about this position?; What makes you a good fit for this role?; What are you strengths and weaknesses?; and What are your salary expectations?

In some ways, telephone interviews are even more difficult than in-person interviews; you can’t see the interviewer’s body language or facial expressions and many people are less comfortable communicating over the phone.  However, if you are well prepared and you make sure to convey enthusiasm in your voice, you will be well on your way to getting invited in for an in-person interview.

(Written by Karen Bivand)


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