12 Ways to Ace the Phone Interview

Phone interviews are critically important; it’s the first point of contact you will have with potential employers. Making a good impression is essential and can be the deciding factor in you getting the position.

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Phone interviews are critically important; it’s the first point of contact you will have with potential employers. Making a good impression is essential and can be the deciding factor in you getting the position. Phone interviews are usually held for strong candidates; this screening process will determine if you’re a good fit for the role. Participating in a successful phone interview requires strong verbal communication skills. Your interview may be conducted by a graduate recruiter or an employee from the company; both will curate a shortlist of applicants to progress in the interview process. 
Prepare.
Preparing for an interview can make a significant difference in how well it goes. Do your research on the company, make notes and write questions you’d like to ask the interview relating to your research. You will likely be asked later in the discussion if you have any questions, and it’s best to prepare with a few ready to go. By asking specific questions relating to the business, you show the interviewer that you took the initiative and invested in the position. Compile a list of questions about the job you’ve applied for; this will benefit you also. If you have any concerns or queries about the position, now is the time to ask.

Practice.
There’s a standard list of interview questions that you can expect throughout the process. Why would you like to work for the company? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Do you have relevant experience? Practice your answers to these questions, make notes to refer back to during the interview to answer the questions fully and keep you on track. You can also rehearse your answers with a friend for feedback.

Have your paperwork nearby.
When you sit down for your phone interview, have your CV and other relevant paperwork with you. This will allow you to refer back to your CV and notes and be a life-saver if your nerves start to get the best of you. Try not to recite what you have written down, and use it as memory triggers. Having your CV and notes will help you generate conversation and elaborate on questions. If you’re participating in a graduate interview, have a list of achievements written down and bullet points to discuss. 

Suitable setting.
You would have discussed a time and date to conduct the phone interview, and you’ll know when to expect the call. Be prepared to answer on time and in the right mindset. Make sure you’re in a suitable, quiet setting and that your phone is charged. Minimise distractions and tell the people you live with before the interview that you can’t be disturbed.

Answer professionally.
When you answer the phone, avoid using slang or abbreviations like hey, sup or yo. As soon as you pick up the phone, the interview begins. Making a good first impression is imperative; your phone etiquette speaks volumes.

Answer: Hello, this is (Insert first and last name) speaking. 

This gives the impression of professionalism and will help create the image you’d like to portray. Create a professional voicemail; if you miss the call, the interviewer will likely leave a message. It’s best if they are greeted with a polite voicemail. 

Interact.
While talking in an interview may seem like a no-brainer, many people struggle with this. Nerves get the best of us, and we seize up. Avoid one-word answers, go into detail, refer to your CV and relevant experiences. Interviews are essentially conversations to check suitability and chemistry. Interact with the interviewer, show enthusiasm and get involved with the conversation. 

Ask questions.
While you’ll likely be given an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview, don’t be afraid to ask relevant questions that relate to the topic throughout the interview. Refer to your list of questions throughout the interview process. Doing this will show your enthusiasm and the work you have already put in.

Language.
Language in a phone interview is imperative. With the absence of visual cues, the language you choose to use is essential to create an image of yourself. Talk slowly to avoid tripping over your words; nerves usually lead to rapid-fire responses but make an effort to slow things down. Take a second to think before you speak. Use professional language that you’re comfortable with and refer back to your notes. 
Be confident.
Confidence is key. Remember that your CV has already gotten you this far; the employer likes what they’ve seen. Take pride in what you have achieved, whether from previous work experience or relevant university coursework. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Even when discussing your weaknesses, do so confidently, explain how you overcome them. 

Take your time.
Being nervous in an interview is expected. A lot of the time, we’re anxiously awaiting the experience to end. However, you’ll make a better impression if you take your time. You want to make a lasting impression. Make sure you work your way through your notes and ask all the questions you think are relevant to the conversation. Follow the interviewers lead; if they begin to wrap up the interview, let the conversation end naturally.
Thank them.
When the interview ends, make sure to thank the interviewer for their time and express eagerness for the position. Use this opportunity to ask them if there’s anything they are uncertain about with your application and the next steps in the process. Leave them feeling optimistic about the experience. 

Follow up.
After an interview, phone or face-to-face, make sure to send a follow-up email to thank them again for their time and the opportunity to work within the company. This will leave them with a good impression of your work ethic and keep your interview fresh in their minds.
The interviewing process can seem daunting, but these steps will help you put across the best version of yourself. Being nervous is expected, and interviewers are aware of this and try not to focus on minor slip-ups. Take time to process questions, refer back to the notes you wrote prior and in turn ask relevant questions about the position and the company. If you feel like you could have represented yourself better, make notes on the areas you would like to work on for the following interview – whether that’s a face-to-face interview or phone interview.
-  Shannel Milne, Nxtstep Content Writer

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