top of page

9 Tips for Mastering the Phone Interview During the Coronavirus Pandemic

In most industries, restricted movement orders have put an end to face-to-face job interviews, substitute them with a virtual alternative such as phone and video interviews. While months ago a phone interview was usually booked for a perfunctory screening of candidates before they were brought in for a face-to-face interview, phone interviews seem poised to play a more important part in the hiring process as long as COVID-19 is around.

For job seekers, phone interviews present a distinctive set of challenges. Since you can't read the body language or facial expressions of your interviewer during your interactions to know how your responses are landing, and it's harder to portray your enthusiasm or friendliness when you aren't able to flash a smile. A lot is lost when you speak on the phone, but it's possible to make up for it with practice and planning. To help you master this critical skill, here are nine tips for making a great impression during your next phone interview:

1. Be clear on the details

Be attentive to the particular. Here are a few things you'll want to be aware of before the interview begins:

  • Make sure it is fully charged if you are using a cellphone, turned on, and able to receive calls. If you are using a landline and receiving the call, make sure no one in the house is on the phone, and don't forget to disable the call-waiting feature for the period of your interview.

  • Have the interviewers' phone numbers. This is important in case the call drops. Having a phone number and a short conversation before the interview to clear up what should happen if the call gets disconnected will save you a lot of headaches.

  • Know the time of the interview, as well as what time zone your interviewer is calling from. It's easy to confusion about the time of the interview without this information.

  • Collect the names of everyone you'll be speaking with, their job titles, and the role they perform at the company. If you get their name, you can even do some short research online to obtain info on their career orientation, or see if you have any connections in common before the call.

  • How long is the interview expected to last? You'll want to have extra time on either side of the call in case your interviewer is running late or the call runs over.

2. Research the company

Put some time to research the company before your telephone interview. Here is a quick checklist of things to study before your call:

  • Read the About Us page on the company's website. This will give you more information about the company's culture and mission.

  • Browse their social media pages to see what fans (and detractors) are saying about the company and its products or services.

  • See if they've been mentioned in the news recently.

3. Set the scene

You don't want to be diverted or uncomfortable on the call, so fine-tune your environment.

  • First, make sure you're calling from a room with no surrounding noise. Close the window. Turn off the fan if you have so that the interviewer must be able to hear you.

  • Then, make yourself comfortable. To get in the right headspace, adjust your environment to your liking. If you prefer a cold atmosphere, set up a little workstation on your couch. If you communicate best when you're active, find a place to pace.

After all, they can't see you so do what makes you comfortable. However, make sure you never get separated too far from a pen and paper. You should also consider having a glass of water nearby just in case your throat gets dry.

4. Practice makes perfect

To avoid you from over-prepare for an interview, thinking through your responses to common questions is an easy way to make a great perception during a job interview.

Here are 10 questions you might be asked during your next phone interview:

  1. What are your greatest strengths?

  2. What is your greatest weakness?

  3. Why are you leaving your current job? (or, why were you let go from your previous job?)

  4. Why are you interested in working for us?

  5. What are you most passionate about?

  6. What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

  7. What is your biggest failure?

  8. Tell us how you've handled a difficult situation.

  9. If we called her up, what would your former manager say about you?

  10. Why should we hire you?

5. Prepare your pitch

Now you're ready to write down your pitch or the ways you intend to persuade the interviewer that you are the right person for the role. These will take a bit of thought, but having your answers written out in advance will make it easier for you to find the right time to convey the information during the call.

Here are a few things you'll want to write out before your next telephone interview:

  • Why you'd be a good fit for the company

  • A list of two to three examples of your skills, plus real-life examples that show how you've effectively used those skills at work

  • A list of one or two key professional accomplishment, along with details on how you reached your goals

6. Write a list of questions to ask the interviewer

This step is critical and needs a bit of research. There's nothing worse than getting asked whether you have any questions at the end of the interview but coming up empty-handed. Not having questions prepared makes a candidate look not organized or uninterested in the position, neither of which is the impression you want to give a recruiter.

To prepare questions, read the job description carefully to understand what's expected of the position and come up with thoughtful questions. Here are five questions you might want to ask during your next phone interview:

  1. What is your top priority for the person who accepts this job?

  2. How do you see this position developing over time?

  3. How will my performance be measured — by whom and how often?

  4. What do you enjoy most/least about working here?

  5. How would you describe the company's corporate culture?

7. Have a printed copy of your resume and cover letter ready

Having a copy of your resume in front of you is great for recall your memory or producing ideas. Have a copy nearby at all times, as well as a pen, so you can write down notes in the margins and refer to important bullet points as the call progresses. Having a printed copy of the cover letter provided with your application also is a good idea in the event that the hiring manager references it during the call.

8. Smile and talk slowly

The major disadvantage of the phone is you can't read someone's body language or facial expression. Because you're missing out on important social and physical signals, you're more likely to unintentionally cut in the interviewer. You can lessen your chances by speaking slowly and allowing full pauses afterthoughts.

At the same time, you want your eagerness for the role to glow through, so smile. A smile changes the way your voice is projected. Research shows that not only can people "hear" a smile, they naturally smile back. Employers want to feel like you want the job, and the best way to do that is by sounding happy and excited to be chatting with them. A smile, even over the phone, goes a long way towards showing your interest.

9. Sell yourself

You've made a list of your skills and achievements before the call. Now it's time to use them. Selling yourself is important in a job interview, and many job seekers find it awkward. A phone interview is your time to tell an employer what you'll bring to the table, not a time to be modest or shy.

Ultimately, don't go overboard as no one wants to work with someone who's arrogant or sarcastic but normalizing your confidence and enthusiasm meters correctly will help you stand out from other candidates. The same goes with Recruit Hero. At Recruit Hero, our quick registration process enables you to stand out from the crowd by highlighting critical soft skills in your profile. So what are you waiting for? Register now at Recruit Hero to secure your dream job! Stay tuned and do follow our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube Channel for more.

bottom of page