Ahh, phone interviews: everyone’s idea of a good time, right? Answering interview questions with no way to gauge your audience’s response is sure to make you feel nervous, and that’s understandable.
Unfortunately, phone interviews are an unavoidable fact of life since most companies don’t want to waste your time and theirs by bringing you on site without a little screening first. Since I know they can feel uncomfortable, I’m laying out my top tips to acing your next phone interview.
The first step to any interview success is to have a clear and confident way to introduce yourself. This is very important for the phone as well. So if you don’t have that, then I’d start by reading this blog and figuring out how to answer the infamous question: “Tell me about yourself.”
Once you’ve got that pitch down, here are some phone-specific tips to help you fight the awkwardness:
Now this may sound weird, but I promise it works. Standing up makes your voice sound stronger and more confident. It also gives you something to do with the extra adrenaline and nervous energy that’s probably running through you. Stand up, give yourself room to walk around if you need to. Loosening up your body will help you sound more comfortable and confident on the phone. It also minimizes chances of getting distracted by incoming emails or other notifications
This relates to point #1, but find somewhere you can be comfortable, and where you and your interviewer won’t be distracted by background noise. Yes, this means not doing it at a coffee shop. (I’m sorry, Starbucks, but you’re not the best place for this!)
Have notes, but don’t read a script. Just because you can read off your paper, doesn’t mean you should. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can have a few notes written down in case you get stuck or lose your train of thought. However, I caution against relying on your notes too much. Many people use this approach because they think, “great, my interviewer can’t see me, I can prepare my answers ahead of time.” And while it’s true that they can’t see you, they will most definitely be able to tell if you are reading off a script.
Take it slow.
Pause more than you want to. Most of us have a tendency to fill silence on the phone. Those silences feel awkward and they can feel way long than they are in reality. When you finish talking, count to 2 or 3 in your head to give the other person time to respond to what you’ve said. There’s nothing more awkward than a phone conversation where you’re both trying to talk at the same time.
For more interview advice, check out some of my other blog posts!