Interviewing with someone face-to-face can feel more intimidating than a phone interview. While it can feel a little easier, a phone interview is no less important than any other, so you want to go into it just as prepared.
Typically, the phone interview is scheduled with a recruiter, HR representative or hiring manager who will ask you preliminary questions to help determine if you’d be a good fit for the role. Basically, your phone interview is with the gatekeeper, so if you want to make it to the next recruitment stage, you need to impress the person you’re speaking with, and the best way to do this is by showing up prepared.
A few days before the interview
✔️ Establish a call space
Set up a spot for you to take the phone call. Make sure it’s quiet, won’t echo and doesn’t risk dropping the call. Wherever it is, be sure you have space for your computer or tablet and a notepad to take notes as needed.
✔️ Go through the job description again
Comb through it and look for responsibilities you have experience in. Pick a few examples of your experience to bring up during the call to help showcase your ability to do the job.
✔️ Study up on the company
If you know who you'll be interviewing with, get a good grasp on the company as a whole. Know what they do, their mission, and their vision. You won’t be quizzed on any of this, of course, but it will help you have a knowledgeable conversation with the interviewer.
✔️ Come up with a list of questions
Since this is usually with a recruiter or HR rep, you don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty questions quite yet, but if there are things they can answer for you to help you decide if you’d be interested in moving forward, write them down so you don’t forget to ask them.
✔️ Do some salary research
Look around to help you determine the industry’s average salary for the job you’re interviewing for. Take your experience level and current salary into account to determine your desired salary for the job.
The day before the interview
✔️ Reduce the risk of distractions
Look around the area you plan to take the call in to see if there are any things that could distract you or the interviewer during the call with noisiness. This is also a good time to make or confirm plans for your kids to keep them occupied if they will be home during the call.
✔️ Practice an elevator pitch
You should have a quick, succinct explanation of your experience, interest in the position and the primary reasons why you are a good fit for the job. Practice it out loud throughout the day to yourself, or with another person in your household if possible.
✔️ Confirm details
Re-familiarize yourself with what time the call is, who is calling who, and who you are speaking with. If any of this is up in the air, email your contact to confirm details.
✔️ Practice answers to commonly asked questions
Research commonly asked questions and practice how you will respond. Feel free to write your answers down and make a cheat sheet for your interview if that is helpful.
✔️ Have a professional voicemail
Hopefully you connect on the first ring. But, if your call goes to voicemail for any reason you’ll want to make sure your message clearly identifies you and has a professional tone.
✔️ Review any studied materials
Do a quick once-over on all of the notes you’ve taken over the last couple of days. If any of your notes don’t make sense, check the company website to clarify.
✔️ Practice the elevator pitch again
Practice a few more times out loud, just before the interview, to make sure you remember it well and it covers the points you want to make.
✔️ Finalize your questions
Look over your questions for the interviewer one more time and make sure there isn’t anything you’re forgetting.
✔️ Ensure everything is charged
The last thing you want is for something to go wrong because of a low battery. Charge up your phone, computer, tablet, and earbuds before the interview so you don’t have to worry about them during the call.
✔️ Get your voice ready
Yes, really! It doesn’t have to be much, just practice your elevator pitch out loud a few times to make sure your voice is warmed up and doesn’t sound like you just woke up from a long nap.
✔️ Dress professionally
Even though the interviewer can’t see you, dressing professionally can help get you in the right mindset for the role. Wear something similar to what you might wear in an in-person interview or what you’ve worn in past office settings to give a signal boost to your brain that you are in a work setting.
During the interview
✔️ Get into “Do Not Disturb” Mode
You don’t want to be interrupted or distracted by notifications, calls, texts, or apps while you are in the middle of the interview. And you definitely don’t want to have the person on the other side hearing buzzing or chimes from the notifications either.
✔️ Have a glass of water nearby
A dry throat, whether from talking or nerves, can be a big interrupter or make you sound less enthusiastic. Keep a drink nearby that you can sip from in case of need.
✔️ Answer enthusiastically
Say “hello, this is (first and last name)” to let the caller know who they are speaking with. Make sure you do it with a smile, too. A smile can help trick your brain into speaking with enthusiasm, which can be heard on the other end of the call.
✔️ Notify them of any potential distractions
If the kids are home or the dog is prone to barking, give your caller a heads up that there could be an interruption. The situation is obviously not ideal, but it’s much more professional for them to have that expectation than to be surprised by a loud noise.
✔️ Monitor verbal communication
Throughout the call be mindful of your volume, tone, enunciation and enthusiasm. Keep things upbeat and express your interest in the position while also staying true to who you are. In other words, don’t overdo it.
✔️ Be prepared for salary talk
If the interviewer doesn’t bring it up, don’t be afraid to ask yourself because if you don’t agree on salary then there’s no reason for anyone to waste time moving forward in the interview process. If a salary is listed on the job description, find out if there is a hiring range or if there is room for negotiation.
✔️ Have a plan for dropped calls
Even if you did all you could to avoid a dropped call, sometimes they still happen. If that’s the case, try to call them right back. If they don’t answer, try one more time and leave a voicemail and then follow that up with an email so the two of you can reconnect.
✔️ Close out the call
When the interview comes to an end, make sure you thank them for their time and express your continued interest in the role (if you have it). This is also the time to ask them for next steps so you can get a timeline for when they plan to move forward and manage your expectations.
After the interview
✔️ Send a thank-you email
Make sure you send a thank you email showing your appreciation for their time within 24 hours of the call. Keep the message short, no more than four sentences, and reiterate your interest in the position. If you're interviewing for a role through The Mom Project and don't have the interviewer's contact information, you can send your message to your contact at The Mom Project and we will pass it along to the hiring manager.
First, take a deep breath and give yourself a pat on the back because you did it! You made it through the first step in the interview process. After you’ve given yourself the congratulations you deserve, take a few minutes to go back over the interview. Think about what went well or what you wish you had done or said differently. There’s no need to overanalyze the situation, just use it as an opportunity to improve so you can do even better in your next interview.
How to Prepare for a Phone Interview
Preparing for your phone interview will help you stand out from the crowd—and ultimately score that next interview! Check out our phone interview guide for more details on how to prepare.