Are you applying for jobs right now? Get ready to spend a lot of time on the phone. Phone interviews act as a way for the company to get to know a little bit about you without both parties spending the time and energy on an in-person interview. It can be pretty low-pressure, but it’s a big opportunity for you to express your interest and skills.
I’ve been doing a lot of phone interviews, some better than others. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.
1 . Have key documents open on your computer
The person interviewing you is looking at your resume and cover letter – you should have those open in front of you as well. If the interviewer refers to specific bullet points in your resume or an interest you mentioned in your cover letter, you want to be able to see what they’re talking about, especially if you applied a while ago. I also like to have the description of the position open as well so that I can tie in what I’m saying to specific requirements or responsibilities. Have these all open in easily accessible tabs before the interview starts.
2. Use headphones
If you’re conducting the phone interview on your cell phone, definitely use headphones. Headphones serve a couple of purposes. Firstly, you’re going to want to be able to use your hands during the phone interview: to switch between the documents you have open on your computer, to have a sip of water, to anxiously run your fingers through your hair, etc. Headphones are much more effective than balancing the phone between your ear and your shoulder like you’re a businesswoman in a 2007 rom-com. Secondly, using headphones rather than speakerphone reduces background noise for your interviewer and lets you hear more clearly. This makes you sound more professional and lets the interviewer focus on what you’re saying, not your neighbor mowing the lawn or your brother’s video game.
3. Do your research and know the company
One of the reasons that companies conduct phone interviews is to sort out the people who really are interested in their organization from the people who applied on a whim. Do your research to make sure you sound like the former. In every phone interview, I’ve been asked something along the lines of “What do you know about our company?” You will also be asked this. Have something prepared. Have a couple sentences that describe their industry, the role they play in that industry, maybe something that makes them unique. Have it ready, and have it accurate. I recently had an interview where I stumbled through the answer to this question and the interviewer had to correct me on some key points. I could have researched this more carefully myself. (You also want to be informed about the specifics of the position, but there you have more freedom to ask questions.)
4. Be prepared to tell them about yourself
At the beginning of the interview, the interviewer will often ask you to tell them a little bit about yourself. This is another opportunity for you to show that you’ve prepared. Having a few sentences ready. Are you a recent college grad passionate about public history looking to work with children? Are you a rising sophomore math major looking for a summer internship to gain experience in and learn about investment banking? Here is a chance for you to identify yourself, your skills, and your objective, be prepared for it and take advantage of it.
5. Send that thank you email promptly
Some people say this isn’t very important, but it’s a nice touch. It’s also very easy to forget. Remind yourself to send the thank-you email to your interviewer the day after your interview if you can. Keep it brief and keep it positive; this is mostly a way to reiterate your interest and tie up any lose ends. If there’s something that you didn’t get a chance to say in the interview that you feel is really important, you can also communicate that here.
Keep sending out those applications and keep getting better at phone interviews. You’ll be landing a job in no time.