Top employers are inundated with resumes when the company has an opening, so many opt to conduct a phone screening for the first round of interviews. Much faster, easier and more cost-effective than an in-person interview, this helps hiring managers screen candidates and decide who to bring into the office for the next round.
Phone interviews aren’t quite as formal as those conducted in-person, but they still need to be taken very seriously. Many candidates make the mistake of not preparing, which can easily cost them the job. Don’t make this error in judgement if you’ve been invited to a phone interview. Instead, put a great deal of effort into the call, because the person on the other end of the line will be able to tell if you’re trying to wing it.
Preparing for a Phone Interview vs. An In-Person Interview
Priming yourself for a phone interview is different than an in-person meeting, but the two share more similarities than you may realize.
- It’s true you don’t have to get in the car and drive to an office for a phone interview, but you do have to be ready and waiting to pick up the phone when it rings. Sending the call to voicemail and returning it a few minutes later will not make a good impression.
- In a traditional interview, you have no say where the meeting takes place, but you’re in complete control when it takes place on the phone. This means it’s on you to find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted or interrupted, as you must completely focus on the person on the other end of the phone. Scope this spot out in advance, because trying to find a suitable location during the interview will stress you out.
- Background Research. Just as it’s important to conduct background research on the company and the interviewer prior to an in-person meeting, it’s just as key to do so before a phone interview. Spend as much time on this task as you would if you were headed to a face-to-face interview. Prior to the call, pull the company website up on your computer, so you can stealthily reference it, if needed.
- Responses to Common Interview Questions. Similarly, put as much effort into formulating responses to standard interview questions as you would if you were going into the office. Stumbling to find the right response is even worse over the phone, because you don’t have body language on your side. Jot down a few notes to help you remember your main points in case you get nervous.
- There’s no need to wear your best business attire for a phone interview, but avoid taking the call in sweats. The way you dress can impact your state of mind, so if you want to sound like a professional, you need to look like one.
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