How to Prepare for Phone Interviews: Short Guide

prepare for phone interviews

Introduction

Technology has unlocked many new opportunities for us by digitally connecting the world. Despite geographical boundaries, you can learn new skills, have a quick chat with your friends and family, or even apply for a job and attend phone interviews in a company which is not in your hometown.

Usually, companies conduct phone interviews as a first-round for those candidates who are not in the same town to save time and money. However, in this pandemic situation, they have started conducting phone interviews for everyone despite the location of candidates since we have to maintain social distancing.

Due to social distancing and it also saves time and money, phone interviews have become new normal. So if you want to be in the race, you must acquire suitable skills to adapt to rapidly changing norms. So let’s understand how we can prepare for a phone interview.

Why Do Organisations Conduct Phone Interviews? 

Since a phone interview does not typically include any face-to-face interaction, most people tend to brush it off as something casual. I used to be ‘most people’ too, but that’s where I went wrong. Here’s why you should take phone interviews seriously:

To Reduce Number of Applicants

Big organisations conduct phone interviews in thefirst-round to save organisational resources, as well as, to eliminate candidates who do not have enough potential to face in-person interviews.

If the Candidate is Far Away

Often candidates apply for jobs in different cities as there are greater opportunities available outside their own hometown. In such cases, phone interviews are used to assess the candidate before he travels to the in-person interview.

A Step by Step Guide to Prepare for Phone Interviews

4 steps to prepare for phone interviews

Step 1: Basics

Know the Organisation.

You’d be surprised at how many people attend interviews without researching the organisation or the role they are applying for. Go through the company’s website to understand their basic details such as their background, functions, and the industry they operate in.

This research will help you to focus on the technical and non-technical skills that the organisation needs from you. 

Go Through Typical Questions for Phone Interviews.

Now that you have an idea about the organisation’s background, prepare a list of typical interview questions. This list should include both technical and non-technical interview questions.

Some common non- technical questions include:

“Why should we hire you for this role?”

“How would you describe yourself?”

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

“Where do you see yourself five years from now?”

“Describe an incident when you faced trouble and how you overcame it.”

Step 2: Practising Phone Interviews

We all know, practice makes a man perfect. So schedule regular mock interview sessions with your friend. You can make your practice sessions more fruitful by considering each practice session as a real interview. Therefore, while practicing, keep in mind, you have to attend the phone interview call as if it were an in-person interview.

Ask a Friend to Be Your Interviewer.

The best way to prepare for the interview is to practice a phone interview call with a friend. It would be better to be interviewed by a friend who belongs to the same educational background since he can easily trace your mistakes. 

This way, you will be able to improve on each small mistake. Moreover, it will help you realise mistakes in verbal communication.

Record mock phone interviews.

We all tend to use filler words – okay, hmm, err, etc. – when we get nervous. During an interview, these fillers can be an indication to the interviewer of your nervousness.

Well, it is OKAY to be nervous. Everyone gets nervous except robots!

So you can record your practice calls, and listen to them carefully to note down the following points:

  • Your tone of voice.
  • Talking speed.
  • How often do you use filler words?
  • How many pauses did you take?

Once you make a note of these points, work on them to improve yourself.

Step 3: Preparing before Phone Interviews

phone interview set up of environment

Now, on the day prior to your interview, start getting ready for the call. Consider the following points before picking up the interview call:

Set up an Environment.

You might be thinking, “Why do we need to set up an environment for a phone interview call?” Well, this will keep distractions away. Follow these simple tips to set up an environment:

  • Choose a silent room in your house. 
  • Tell everyone not to disturb you during the interview. 
  • Set up a chair and table as per your convenience. 
  • Place a notepad and pen to take notes during the phone interview call.

Put Information at Your Fingertips.

Stick your resume on the wall or place it near you where you can reach it easily. Also do this for the company background information you researched earlier.

Step 4: Your Phone is Ringing

This is the step where you will be taking the action for which you have been preparing hard. The following points will guide you through your phone interview call:

Politely greet your interviewer.

Listen carefully. Make sure you actually pay attention to what the interviewer is saying. Sometimes, you may get distracted and you don’t end up listening to what is being said. 

Understand the question. If you don’t understand the question; it’s alright to ask the interviewer to repeat it – try not to do it too often, though.

Answer every possible question. Be honest while answering the questions and if you don’t know the answers, you may inform your interviewer. 

Take notes during the interview. Additionally, note down the questions that you want to ask the interviewer at the end of the phone interview. 

Key Takeaways

When you apply for the job or internship, be prepared for a surprise call

Have a clear idea about who is going to call. If you are going to call; call at the exact time specified. If the recruiter is going to call, then wait patiently. Don’t forget to note down the name of the person for future references. 

Set up the environment for the call as we discussed earlier.

Prepare questions to ask an interviewer in advance.

Always follow these steps during the call: Listen-Understand-Answer.

While answering, smile; talk slowly and politely. A smile can calm your nerves. 

If you don’t understand the question, request the interviewer to repeat it. 

Note down key points of the interview while interviewing. 

Bonus Tip: A Thanksgiving Note

say thank you after a phone interview

Now you might be thinking, “Phew, the interview is over.”

BUT, as Shahrukh Khan said in his famous movie Om Shanti Om,“Picture abhi baki hai, mere dost!” (The film is not over yet, my friend!)

After an interview, write a short and simple thanksgiving note to the interviewer. Sprinkle some points into the note that show your interest in the job. It will improve your probability of getting selected for the next round and creating a distinct impression of you to the employer. 

Conclusion

The only sure way of building your confidence is through the steps you take. Watch your confidence grow with every step you take, right from your research on basic information about the organisation to writing the thanksgiving note to the interviewer. Along with basic information gathered in Step 1 (The Basics), Step 2 (Practicing the Phone Interview) will require sheer dedication and persistence in practice. Step 3 (Preparing for the Call) will help in executing all your practice and in the final, which is Step 4 (Your Phone is Ringing), get ready to put forth your best!

The key point here to remember is: Follow the appropriate steps and prepare well to give your best, to crack your interviews, even when it’s on a call.

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