The Art of the Phone Interview: Call, Impress, Hire

Posted by Calling All Optimists on Mar 15, 2019

You applied for the job and you finally got the email you’ve been awaiting. They want to interview you. Congratulations! The first step is to finally exhale. The second step is to make sure you prepare yourself for what’s likely to come next: the screening call. This first step in the interview process is less about breaking out your best business suit and more about how to quickly dazzle your interviewer during a quick phone call. After all, you likely have under 30 minutes to meet all the basic qualifications and leave a lasting impression. No pressure. Here’s how to make sure you stand out:

Collect your recon

It’s the digital age and you can be almost certain that your prospective employer is doing research on you, so make sure you do some recon of your own on them. Click around the company’s website and their social media presence to gather a thorough understanding of their history, what they do, and who you’re being interviewed by. The more you can apply these tidbits of knowledge to your interview, the more they’ll be impressed by the fact you know why the company started or that you and your interviewer have similar past experience!

Assemble those talking points

Break out the job description, get out your pen, and start thinking about how you can speak to the specific qualifications and requirements of your possible future job. Think through your professional and academic background to connect real-life experiences with what they’re looking for. Remember to also spend some time brainstorming your answer to why THIS company and why THIS job. This application may have been one out of hundreds you sent out, but you have to make them feel like they’re the only company for you.

Celebrate your successes

You know you’re awesome and can do the job, but how will you show your interviewer you can? This is where success stories come into play. Challenge yourself to think of five stories in your professional or academic past that exemplify the skills they’re looking for. At this point in your career you might not have the story of how you managed a million dollar contract, but you do have stories about how you were in charge of a college club’s budget or how you rocked the financial spreadsheets at your last internship.

Ask poignant questions

An interview isn’t a one-way interaction. Brainstorm a list of questions about the job and position beforehand so you’re not caught off-guard by the inevitable, “Do you have any questions for me?” Think about questions that really give you insight into the position and company such as inquiring about their goals for 2018 or what a typical day looks like. Also consider hitting them one of the ultimate interview questions, “Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?” This gives you a chance to immediately assuage any worries or hesitations they may have about you and your experience.

Always say thank you. Always.

The phone interview isn’t over once you end the call. Remember to send each person that interviewed you a quick note thanking them for their time, expressing continued interest in the company and position, and leaving the conversation open if they have any additional questions for you. Try setting a timer so you do this a few hours after the call to appear calm, collected, and interested as opposed to a note as soon as they hang up.

Now you’re officially ready for that phone to start ringing. Find a comfy and quiet spot, pull out your notes, and let the prepared professional you already know you are, shine through the phone. You’ll be called back for a second interview before you know it.

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