Phone Interviews: What You Need To Know When They Call

CN_Marc_v1_eA successful phone interviews is often your entrance key to the rest of the job interview process. And if you can’t succeed at getting past THIS door, you won’t get the chance to continue the process — and show the employer all you have to offer.

So, based on many years of experience as a phone screener and hiring manager, I’ve put together some handy-dandy phone interview tips and articles to help get you to that next step:

First some general tips about phone interviews

A screener mostly wants to get a feel for who you really are and whether you are someone their company would want to meet with and see as a likely candidate. Their main job at this point is to screen out the ones who don’t fit, and then come up with a certain number of best matches, in their opinion.

It pays to come as prepared as you can, while also being as natural as you can. You want to connect and engage as if you were speaking to someone you already know — but still remembering that this is a business call. That means no gum, no slang, and no distractions (like TV or other calls) while you speak.

Here are some more suggestions to help:

=>  How To Handle Your Initial Phone Interview 


So what is the phone screener really looking for?

Understanding what they want can help you feel more comfortable. No one can tell you exactly what they will ask. Each screener is different.

But you can help prepare yourself by knowing some general things they look for when they make that call to a prospective candidate. An article to help:

=>  What Employers Look For In a Screening Phone Interview


Let’s look at the types of questions they ask

Again, no one screener is the same as any other screener. So it’s good to be prepared for anything just in case. But the good news is that the majority of phone screening interviews follow a standard pattern.

Either way, it probably will help you feel more secure (an important thing in doing well in any interview) to see what kinds of things they often ask:

=>  What Questions Do Employers Ask in a Phone Interview?


Phone interview FAQs

♦   What if it’s a surprise call and you’re not ready?

If it’s a surprise call, and you feel you need some time, it’s ok to say you are in the middle of something (especially if you are) and ask if it’s ok to have them call you back at a set time. You can also simply not answer the phone if you have caller ID, and then use the message they leave to get in touch with them.

CAUTION: Sometimes they don’t call back. But if you really are caught up in something that would make it hard, by all means ask to schedule another time.

My best recommendation? Prepare ahead of time, and then do your best when they call — even if it’s a surprise.

♦   What should you do to prepare?

This is the time to do your research on them, study the job description well, and know your resume and relevant experience well. You may find some helpful tips in my article on preparing for job interviews:

=>   How to Prepare for Your Job Interview


♦   Should you send a thank you note?

I never expected or needed a thank you note from the people I screened. But each situation is different. [You can find sample thank you notes and much more in the Interview Tips article at the end of this post.]

So if it feels right and you have the screener’s contact information (often not the case), by all means send a short, polite note. But trust me, if you are someone they want, they are not waiting for a thank you at this initial stage!

♦   Should you follow up after a phone interview?

My thoughts here are pretty similar. The screening stage is pretty much something employers do without needing or wanting extra candidate input. In fact, it may even be done by a 3rd party outside of the firm.  But if you still want to take action (and have the info), this post may be helpful at this stage … and definitely for the next stage if you move on:

=>  Interview Follow-Up Dos and Don’ts


A few more thoughts on phone interview success

Let’s be honest. If you don’t have what they’re looking for, you can’t change that no matter how brilliant your interview is. BUT, if you are someone who might be a great match even with a few less things than they ideally want, a truly successful phone interview can get you to that next step.

So your job is to do your research ahead of time (googling them during the call reduces your chance to connect),and  know your resume well (and yourself including strengths, weaknesses, relevant transferable skills, etc.)

Also … being nervous is totally normal. Even if you’re shaking a little, being fully present, energized, and listening well (with a smile as you speak) can help win you the day … and the interview!

Good luck!

More articles to help:

♦   Interview tips:  Before, During & After Your Job Interview

♦   What Goes On Behind the Scenes After You Apply for a Job?