How to prepare for a phone interview

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

You’ve landed a phone interview. Congratulations! This is typically the first step of the interview process and one opportunity for you to really shine with recruiters. No one is going anywhere right now with a global pandemic outside, but even though the stakes might seem lower, stellar prep and taking this even more seriously in today’s climate will help set you apart from growing competition out there.

Take time to adequately prepare for this situation

Phone interviews are a great way for companies to assess and filter through a large number of applicants, very quickly. It less resource-heavy on the employer’s side and, in normal circumstances, doesn’t require an office or campus visit from you (nor do you need to request time off from your current job).

It can be tricky to make a good first impression on the phone, but it’s not impossible. Take time to properly prepare for this unique (but common) situation, and you’ll fly through to the next stage.

Do your homework and prep flashcards

Research the company, the department, earnings reports and anything newsworthy (you might want to set up some Google Alerts for your target companies at the start of your job search). Understand what’s happening at a macro level, how the company and its leadership are adapting to external pressures (and existential ones, in the time of COVID-19), including their social media presence and conversations happening online. Then understand and prepare for the job itself, at the micro level. Read up on everything and prepare answers to common interview questions. Prep these answers on large index cards, so you won’t be flipping through papers while on the phone call if you’re asked a question and need to refer to your notes.

Get out of your pajamas

This guidance hits a bit close to home as we are all navigating this new working-from-home situation. It’s a phone interview, yes, but there’s something about putting on a jacket or collared blouse that shifts you into a different, more professional mindset. Different from the one you’re in while wearing yoga pants (even if you’re only dressing your top half, these days). Do yourself a favor and get out of your pajamas, even if you’re going to change right back into them when you hang up.

Don’t take the call sitting down

The way your voice sounds while curled up on your couch is different from the way it sounds while you’re standing up, tall. You project more confidence and frankly, more life and energy. Answer the call while standing at your kitchen counter, preferably with a mirror nearby (it’ll help you enunciate your words and maintain your energy). Also, lay out those flashcards you prepped earlier, all over your counter or a nice, large tabletop, so you can refer to anything you need without fumbling through.

Stop talking, and breathe. Literally.

It’s easy for the phone interview to feel really quick, but take your time and breathe. You may feel the need to talk the entire time, squeezing your accomplishments and ideas into every free second, but slow down and make it a conversation. Actively listen to your interviewer’s questions, and respond to points within them. Show some of your personality while outlining your game plan to add value to their team.

Researching common questions is fairly easy to do (we’ve got tons over on Instagram: ones to ask, and ones to prep for / rehearse) – make sure you’re looking up domain questions, and behavioral questions. If you are armed with the knowledge you need and take these tips into consideration while prepping, you’ll soar on to the next interview stage in no time.

Good luck!

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