How to win at phone interviews

Phone Interview
Steve Carell, (AP Photo/NBC, Justin Lubin)

As a contractor, phone interviews are a fact of life. We have to do them to let people know how awesome we are, plus it saves a trip into their office until we’re sure they want us and we want them. After consulting with my posse on LinkedIn and looking at lists on the internet, this is the list of phone interview tips I came up with:

The tips

  1. Be prepared! Put the date and time into your computer/phone calendar and set the alert.
  2. Try to avoid speakerphones. I had one last week and I reckon I got 75% of the conversation. I mentioned it to him and he said that was the only phone in a quiet place he had access to. So do your best. I am going to the next stage so it couldn’t have been that bad.
  3. Stand up. This might not seem obvious but in terms of posture and sounding good, it makes sense. On the same note, smile. It makes you sound better.
  4. Dress up. A proportion of interviews will take place over Skype but even if they don’t, a shirt and a pair of trousers make a difference.
  5. Have your resume to hand. This is good advice. I have done so many gigs, they start blurring into one and it help tell the story.
  6. Have a notepad to hand. It’s good to keep notes, what questions to ask and what to go back to.
  7. Be yourself. I’d rather be Chris Hemsworth, but beggars can’t be choosers. Equally, if your personality is a bit rubbish, best gloss over it. Sound enthusiastic and avoid a monotone.
  8. Block out time and a place to have the interview. Make sure the place is quiet and you’ll be undisturbed.
  9. A bit underhand, but suggest you’re already a long way down the line with someone else. I’m not sure this one is entirely ethical.
  10. Prefer landline over mobile. My mobile tethers over wifi and isn’t 100% reliable. Be in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Turn off your mobile.
  11. This is a general interview tip, but do your research on the company. I always try to find out what their real problem is, not the bland list of requirements in the job ad. Try to form relevant questions. Prepare some questions and answers.
  12. Try to get an email address so you can follow up afterwards, with the notes you made. You made notes, right?
  13. Salary expectations. This one is hard. On my hippy side of the fence, they should pay you what you’re worth. Some of my most productive contracts have been when the interviewer has winced slightly at my price. Equally, I think talking money at this stage is a bit presumptuous.
  14. This one is for Americans: don’t chew gum. And don’t smoke. You can smell it down the phone line.
  15. Have a glass of water handy. A dry throat is no help.
  16. Don’t interrupt and take your time. Pauses are shorter than you think.

And there you have it. The wisdom of crowds!

3 Replies to “How to win at phone interviews”

  1. Might want to check your resume for spelling mistake judging by this post

    1. One real spelling error, a couple of typos and one Grammar error that Grammarly hlighlighted. That’s not too bad. According to Grammarly I’m in the top 25% of English writers šŸ™‚

      You also made an error in your comment!

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