How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

FT Contributor  | 

Companies sometimes use phone interviews to screen potential candidates from a pool of job applicants. Most of the time, phone interviews  serve as a precursor to in-person interviews. Over the phone, the interviewer  asks the job applicant basic questions to evaluate their experience level and skill set.

A phone interview may be conducted traditionally or digitally by a recruiter, a human resources representative, or the director of a particular department. It depends on the structure of the company. Regardless of who interviews you, they will reach out to you to schedule the call via email.

If you’re invited to participate in a phone interview, it’s best to be well-prepared. Lay the groundwork just right, and you’ll leave a lasting impression that could lead to an in-person interview.

Preparing for a Phone Interview

Your resume was impressive and the company wants to connect with you to learn a bit more about your experience. Phone interviews typically take less than an hour, so it’s important to be ready. Here’s how you can best prepare for the interview:

Make a List of Strengths

Analyze the job description of the position you’re interviewing for, then make a list of your own strengths that correlate with different aspects of the role. Having the list readily accessible during your phone interview will allow you to reference your notes and answer the recruiter’s questions quickly and accurately.

Research the Company

The beauty of phone interviews is that you’re able to reference notes or website tabs during the call. Prior to your interview, research the company and its history. Take notes on what their values are, what the brand stands for, the company’s overall mission, and what the company wants to achieve in the future. This will demonstrate your overall interest and showcase the effort you put into researching the company prior to the call.

Give Relevant Experience

Make note of any relevant experience in your arsenal that the recruiter will want to hear about. Whether it’s a project you worked on during the course of your education or a problem you solved in a previous role, having these experiences top-of-mind will allow you to easily talk about your abilities to the recruiter. The more relevant experiences you can tie to the job description, the more likely the interviewer will be to choose you for the the next round of interviews.

Find a Quiet Space

When it comes time to take your phone interview, find a quiet place where there will be no distractions, such as a home office or bedroom. If there isn’t a good place in your home to take the call, you could go to a friend’s or family member’s house, or even take the call from your car. Wherever you decide to take the call, make sure your phone battery is charged and you have reception so the recruiter can hear you clearly.

Thank the Interviewer

Always thank the recruiter or person interviewing you for their time, both at the conclusion of the call and after the fact via email or snail mail. This demonstrates your appreciation and helps you stand out from the other candidates. Don’t forget to ask for their name and email address or the best way to contact them with any follow-up questions.

Questions to Ask in a Phone Interview

When it comes to asking questions in a phone interview, choose relevant topics that also give you a chance to share more about yourself. Below, you’ll find a few examples of questions you should ask during your phone interview.

How Would You Describe the Responsibilities of This Role?

Ask the interviewer how they would describe the role’s responsibilities. When interviewing for a job, you should always ask this question to gain a better understanding of what you’ll actually be doing on a daily basis. If you think you’ll enjoy the tasks the role requires, you’ll probably find that the job is a good fit for your skills and passions. Asking this question also further demonstrates your interest to the person you’re interviewing with.

What Do You View as the Most Challenging Part of This Job?

Next, you should inquire about the most challenging aspect of the job. This question is an important part of determining whether you’ll be able to handle all of the duties of the position. Understanding the challenges the role comes with will give you a chance to demonstrate how you handle difficult situations. The answer to this question will also help you determine if you’ll enjoy the harder aspects of the job.  

What are the Opportunities for Advancement With the Company?

Finally, find out about opportunities for advancement in the company to which you’re applying. Asking this question demonstrates a few things to the person with whom you’re interviewing. For one, it shows you’re interested in a long-term commitment. It also shows the recruiter that you’ve thought about the growth of the company and what you can do to help the company advance towards its goals.

Don’t be nervous — phone interviews are easier to handle when you’re prepared for them. Proper preparation could help you advance to the next round and eventually land the job.


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This post was updated December 19, 2019. It was originally published December 19, 2019.