Phone interviews present unique issues that many candidates fail to recognize. There are advantages, such as not worrying about travel. There are, however, also disadvantages, such as losing the ability to display sincerity through body language, the difficulty in making a connection with an interviewer you cannot see, and a very real risk of losing the position due to poor phone etiquette.
Get an edge on the competition by following these steps for a successful phone interview:
- Eliminate Distractions. Often candidates fail to take phone interviews seriously, and treat them like other calls. Don’t make that mistake. Ensure any other phones are either switched off or set to do not disturb. Do not check your email, work, eat, drink, chew gum, or type while you are being interviewed. Also make sure you are in an area away from background noise or interruptions.
- Be Prepared. Even though it is a phone interview, you still need to prepare to make your best impression. Know who will initiate the call and what number to use. Have a copy of your résumé at hand — chances are that your interviewer will refer to it during the interview. Make a list of questions you would like to ask, such as those about the firm’s environment and the type of work you would be doing during the first year. Research the firm and be able to articulate why you are a fit for the team.
- Listen. Treat the interviewer with the same level of respect that you would during an in-person meeting. It’s more tempting to interrupt during a phone conversation than it is in person, so make a conscious effort to listen closely and to wait until the interviewer has obviously finished speaking before you speak.
- Be Positive, Not Arrogant. There is a fine line between highlighting your achievements and coming across as arrogant. Focus on how your clients have benefited from your strengths, and the results will speak for themselves.
- Be Concise. Avoid rambling or long-winded answers. It is more difficult to keep an interviewer’s attention by phone than in person, and you also miss out on visual cues as to when the interviewer has heard enough. Keep your answers to a moderate length and go back into detail if asked.
- Be Gracious. While the interviewer likely hasn’t invested as much time as s/he would have during an in-person interview, show gratitude for the time s/he has taken with you. Say thank you. Not only is it polite, but it will leave the interviewer with a positive impression as you end the call.
- Follow Up. A short note via email to the interviewer will serve as a reminder of your call. Thank the interviewer, reiterate why you would be an excellent candidate for the position, and offer to provide additional information should the interviewer have more questions.
If you have truly given the phone interview your best shot and followed these steps, it won’t be long before the next call you get is one offering you an in-person interview.