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How to Handle a Phone Interview

As you may already be aware, some companies these days prefer to conduct a phone interview rather than a face-to-face talk with an applicant. The phone interview may be part of a series of interviews that may or may not involve a face-to-face meeting. At times, a single phone interview is all that is needed to determine the fate of a candidate.

Some companies use phone interviews to screen candidates that they will eventually invite over for a one-on-one meeting. This is especially true for companies hiring people from faraway places; candidates living in other states or provinces or even from other countries. Basically, a phone interview can determine one’s progress in the interview process.

Mastering how to handle a phone interview can help you clinch your dream job. The fact is that you may be qualified for the position that you applied for, but your inability to handle a phone interview may ruin your chance! A bad first impression is hard to salvage. Therefore, it is important to be well prepared before your phone interview commences.

Before Your Phone Interview

There are basic things you need to do before your phone interview commences.

Do Some Research

Do some research about the company that wants to interview you. Also, find out more about the position you are applying for. Do not assume you know things you may not know because you have had previous successful phone interviews.

Avoid Lateness

Do not be late for the interview. Just because it will be over the phone does not mean it is not serious. The interviewer would know if you were not prepared to receive the call. Therefore, get the date and time for your phone interview right. You may schedule it with an alarm to remind you four to five hours be it commences.

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Get the Right Environment

Locate a quiet environment, devoid of other forms of distractions. Stay away from children, especially babies, as much as possible. If you are nursing mum, get a babysitter at least during this period. You need to stay focused.

Secure a Good Phone Signal

The quality of your phone call largely depends on your service provider. However, ensure that the place you will be during the interview has a good signal strength. That is, your phone’s signal bar should be at the maximum. To be double sure, test call a friend or briefly call yourself with another phone. Also, make sure your phone battery is well charged. You do not want your phone going off during the phone interview.

Get Relevant Documents

You should be familiar with the documents that the company may ask of, however, get them and browse through them before the interview. Then keep them by you. Avoid reading from them during the interview. The interviewer would know and this could be a minus for you.

Get Serious

Get a pen and paper for jotting down relevant points during the phone interview. Dress formally, yes, be that serious, it will reflect in the way you respond during the phone interview. Do not fall for the temptation of wearing your pajamas!

Anticipate Questions

Write down possible questions and provide answers to them. Read through the answers. You should avoid reading them during the phone interview.

Take a Fruit

This will help keep you sharp and alert. Avoid soft drinks, especially those with effervescence, they can make you belch during the phone interview, and you do not need that. A heavy meal could make you sleepy, so it is a bad idea.

Other Matters

Avoid fixing other appointments around the interview time. Take it seriously. Use the bathroom if you must, long before the time. If there is anything else you know you need to put in place prior to the phone interview, do so on time and take a comfortable position.

During the Phone Interview

Now that you are set for the phone interview, let us see relevant tips for how to handle the process. Also, check out the article on phone call etiquette.

Be Confident

Start and finish the interview with confidence. Let it resonant in your voice that you are the person for the job. Put up a smile from time to time, this will help keep you calm and maintain your confidence. A shaky voice over the phone during an interview does more damage than you can imagine. It is like failing under minimal pressure. It means you may be unable to manage mild pressure at work.

Be Assertive, Not Aggressive

Allow the interviewer to finish talking before responding. When responding, remain assertive, but not loud or aggressive. It is plain rude to talk over the interviewer. In as much as you would like to drive your points home, be calm and polite while doing so. Do not take over the interview just because you cannot see the other person. You are doing yourself a lot more damage than you know.

Do Not Get Personal

It is not necessary to give details about your personal life during a phone interview. However, if asked, you will need to answer. This is because the main point of a phone interview is to get to know your professional experience. Also, avoid saying the personal preparations you had to make to be able to make the interview.

Avoid the Salary Talk

Avoid discussing your salary during the interview. A phone interview is usually the first contact a company would make during the hiring process. It is not appropriate to start discussing how much you would like to earn. There will be adequate time to do this down the line during the interview process. But, if you are asked directly during this early stage, there is no harm answering accordingly.

Avoid Multitasking

Resist the common temptation to do other things during a phone interview. Besides the fact that you will likely be distracted, the interviewer will notice. It will pass the message that you are not serious with the interview, vis-à-vis, you are not really interested in the job. Avoid taking a walk or trying to quickly sort out one thing or the other. Do not respond to a message on your phone or check out social media during a phone interview.

Avoid Filler Interjections

“Um”, “uh” or “hmmm”, these are unprofessional during a phone interview. It may be difficult to eliminate these because we use them regularly in our speech. However, they become rather obvious during a phone call. This is unlike in a face-to-face interview in which one’s looks may provide a distraction for the interviewer(s) and they may pass unnoticed.

Be Concise

Avoid giving long answers during a phone interview. People tend to lose interest when a phone conversation is rather long. To help with this, practice the answers to possible questions before the phone interview. Giving concise answers also shows that you are ready for the interview and for the position you are being interviewed for as well. It shows professionalism.

Be Honest

When answering question be completely honest. Even if the company is located far from where you are, probably in another country, do not assume that they cannot find out things about you. There is really no point lying to a company where you hope to work. If they believe your lies and finally employ you, the day you will be discovered, you will leave there in shame. Keep a clean slate, integrity pays.

Avoid “Holding” the Interviewer

Do not put the person interviewing you on hold. Besides being rude, it tells him or her that you do not prioritize the job you are being interviewed for. Except it is a life-threatening emergency, avoid picking any other call during a phone interview. The hiring company needs to know that you take them seriously and that you really want to the job; that is the winning attitude.

Ask When Asked

When the interview is about to ended and the interviewer asks if you have any question, respond by asking one or two questions. It shows that you have had a fruitful interview and that you took it seriously. It also implies that you are interested in the job. Even if no question is coming to your mind immediately, try and generate a question that makes good sense. Not asking any question may ruin a perfectly executed interview.

After the Phone Interview

Here are a few things to note after a phone interview.

Do Not Call Back

Avoid yielding to the urge to call back the company to clarify anything or provide a more accurate answer to any question. If you must do this, send an email. It should be a Thank You Email in which you briefly mention things you feel you need to bring forward. However, it is best to let things be after a phone interview. Trying to clarify things may not really be a good idea.

Send a Thank You Email

Sending a Thank You Email tells the employer that you place great value on the company. It also tells them that you are serious about the position you are applying for. It presents you as a professional to be taken seriously, ready for work! The email should be brief and to the point.

Relax and Wait

After doing all the needful, sit back and relax. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Remain cheerful because life is beautiful.

Wishing you the very best!

Dr. Kelechi Duru
Dr. Kelechi Duru
Dr. Kelechi Duru is a physician with a keen interest in healthcare administration and business management. And yes, he rather writes about business than the latest clinical trials. He enjoys building castles in the air with his wife (they currently live in one) and has a wild fascination for nature.

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