Phone interview tips are important to have under your belt as a remote job seeker. After all, you’re applying to distributed workforces that have no office locations or remote-friendly companies where corporate headquarters may be halfway across the world.
That doesn’t exactly make it possible (or convenient) to come in for an in-person interview. Instead, you’ll go through a number of phone interviews as you work to ditch your daily commute.
Needless to say, the more phone interview tips you know, the better your chances of getting to the next round of the hiring process.
5 Phone Interview Tips To Help You Get To The Next Round
- Re-Read The Job Description
- Prep Strong Answers To Common Interview Questions
- Do Your Homework
- Make A List of Questions To Ask
- Prepare Your Interview Area
1. Re-Read The Job Description
Before you hop on the phone with a recruiter or hiring manager, make sure you know which position you’re actually applying for. When I worked as a recruiter for virtual companies, I can’t tell you how many people I phone interviewed who simply had no idea what the job was even about. They’d ask me to “remind them” about the position — big mistake. It made them seem disinterested at best and lazy at worst. Not exactly the first impression you want to make.
Instead, review the ad. And then review it again. Jot down keywords, including hard and soft skills that are required for the job. (You’ll use these keywords for phone interview tip number 2)
Remember, the job ad is essentially the employer’s description of their perfect hire. The more you know about the job description, the better you prove you’re the ‘perfect’ match.
2. Prep Strong Answers To Common Interview Questions
I’m sure you were expecting this to be one of the phone interview tips you should follow. And for good reasons — if you prepare interview answers in advance, you’re likely to feel more confident during the interview. Your confidence will show, even over the phone, and make it easier to get through.
But, there’s a difference between bland interview answers and strong ones. Make sure you always strive for the latter.
As a recruiter, I’d often ask similar questions to candidates across different industries. I can’t tell you how many times I’d hear, when asking a candidate what their greatest weakness is, cliche responses like:
- I care too much.
- I’m a workaholic who puts too much of myself into my work.
- I often take on too many responsibilities because I’m an overachiever.
Meh. Meh. And meh.
Recruiters are smart. They can google ‘answers to common interview questions’ too. They want to see that you’re being authentic during the interview, and not just telling them what you think they want to hear.
Be true to yourself. Skip the cliches. Flaunt your flaws, if need be. But don’t overdo it either.
Sample Interview Answer
And, remember the keywords that you pulled from the job description in phone interview tip 1? Whenever possible (and natural) use them in your prepared responses.
For example, this ad says (highlighted below) under qualifications, the perfect candidate will be a goal oriented and able to work both independently and as an active member of a team. Great. “Goal oriented” and “member of a team” are two (of many) keywords you should take note of.
And, should the recruiter ask you a common interview question like, “What can you bring to the sales team?” You could have a prepared, keyword-filled answer like:
“Great question. While I’m very independent and goal-oriented (keywords), I still look at sales as a collaborative department. It’s important to be a team player (keyword) in order to work for the greater good of the customer.”
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again — The job ad is basically the employer’s description of their perfect employee. You want to mirror the job ad as much as possible to show you’re the person for the job. You can do that by using keywords from the ad in your prepared responses.
3. Do Your Homework
Recruiters hope you’re interviewing for a position because you’re genuinely interested in the job and want to be a part of the company. They strive to find a candidate who would be a good fit for both the job and the company’s culture. You can show your enthusiasm for the job and company by doing some homework.
A great place to start is the company website. Scroll to the bottom of the homepage. In the footer, look for links that say About Us or Corporate or News. Often, these links will lead you to current events going on in the company (like press releases) and give you general information about the way they work. Even better if you can find the company’s mission statement, values, and beliefs.
Take a look at one of my favorite distributed workforces, Buffer, and how their website can help you with a phone interview.
Jot down any noteworthy information onto your interview cheat sheet. That way, during your phone interview, you can easily bring up this information to show you are, one, interested and, two, motivated enough to learn about the company without anyone telling you to do it.
After you get good information from the website, head over to some popular social channels. Facebook and Twitter are great options for just about any company. Follow them on social media and check out their recent tweets and posts.
Again, when you’re speaking to the recruiter, you can casually mention how you saw that the company was doing a new product launch via Twitter or ‘liked’ a recent post on Facebook about a sale or promotion.
This instantly shows the recruiter you’re interested, enthusiastic, and likely a good fit for the company if you’re already following them on social media.
4. Know What To Ask
Another obvious entry to the phone interview tips is to prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer.
If you’ve ever been on an interview before, you know there’s that moment (often toward the end of the interview) where the tables are turned. The person who’s been asking you all the questions suddenly stops and asks you what questions you have for them.
If you’re unprepared, you’ll likely stammer, think for a second, and then draw a blank.
This makes the interviewer think you’re less than interested in the job. Why? Think about it. When you like something or are genuinely interested, you want to know more about it. And to learn more, you’ll often be bursting with questions to find out everything you can.
So, instead of drawing a blank when the time comes, take a few minutes in advance to think of some thoughtful questions to ask. Generally speaking, anything about the job description and company are great. Try to stay away from nitty gritty questions like salary and benefits, vacation policies, etc.
If you’re not sure of what the heck you should ask. That’s okay. Here’s a list of questions you can ask at the end of an interview that won’t rub the recruiter the wrong way.
5. Stage Your Interview Area
No list of phone interview tips would be complete without discussing ways to set yourself up for success. Your phone interview will likely happen in your own home. This familiar environment can make it feel more casual, like chatting up a friend, instead of an actual interview for a remote job. To give your phone interview a greater feeling of importance it deserves, make sure to set up the interview space in advance.
Things to consider before the phone interview:
Make sure your phone is fully charged
There’s nothing worse than hearing your phone beep that it’s dying in the middle of an interview
Find a quiet space in your house with great reception and zero distractions
Losing service isn’t your fault, but it still leaves a sore spot on your interview. Find a no-dead-zone that leaves you plenty of reception and no distractions
Let others in the house know you’ll be on a phone interview and to keep it down
Being interrupted during a phone interview by a kid, neighbor, or roommate can derail even the best conversation
Bring your notes, including the homework you did and prepped interview answers and questions to ask
You did all the work ahead of time, don’t forget to have your notes handy! You can refer to them when you need an answer or when the time comes to ask questions.
There’s a reason opera singers, comedians, and public speakers stand on stage — their voice sounds better, clearer, and more confident. The same holds true for you during your phone interview. Don’t sit down. Get on your feet and deliver all the confidence you can.
Phone Interview Tips You Gotta Know
There you have it — 5 indispensable phone interview tips to help you get to the next round of hiring. Remember, the phone interview is an often used technique in the world of remote hiring to help identify promising candidates. Those who make the cut are often invited for a more formal video interview via Skype, GoTo Meeting or the like. But to get to that point, first you’ve got to ace your phone interview.
Follow these phone interview tips to give you the best chance of outshining the competition so you can finally kick that cubicle of yours to the curb.
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