Keys For Successful Phone Interviews

Most of our interview processes start with phone interviews. It seems to have become the equivalent to having a cup of coffee in the dating world.

Nobody wants to really commit to dinner yet, so they test the water for 30-minutes at Starbucks.

There are two main challenges with the format and logistics of phone interviews:
1. You have a short amount of time
2. You do not have the benefit of body language nor facial expressions

In the case of virtual office / remote roles the phone interview is even more important. Your primary method of communication and interaction will be over the phone… so you have to give the hiring manager a 360 degree view of what it will be like to work with you right from “hello”.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind and increase your chance of success on your next phone interview.

1. Build rapport. Do so quickly. My suggestion is to have some small-talk planned for the start of the call. When I say small talk, I don’t mean the weather or sports… find a news item or two about the company (a new customer, product, partnership, investor, etc.) and congratulate the hiring manager on this win.

Make some chit chat about this for a minute or two but don’t get carried away. Just break the ice and then move the conversation back to the interview by thanking the hiring manager for their time and telling them how interested you are in the position.

2. Have good manners. Your mom was right… they count. Thank your interviewer for their time at the start and at the end of the call. Thank them for their consideration.

3. Express interest. Tell them specifically WHY this position is interesting to you.

4. Be specific. If someone asks you how well you know Test & Target don’t say, “I am an expert.” That is meaningless. Say, “I used Test & Target every day for eighteen months while I was with XYZ Corp. I used it to do X, Y and Z. The results were great… in one case we were able to produce X for our client. I think it is a great product and I think I know how to get the most out of it.”

5. Be concise. You have 30-minutes. Don’t use up 5-10 minutes on any one point or anecdote. When you are being specific and giving examples of your skills / experience, get to the point quickly. What did you do, why did you do it and what was the result.

6. Ask questions if you have a chance, but DO NOT interview the interviewer.

Your questions should not be of the “What can you do for me” variety. They should be the, “Help me understand how I can help you” type… Ask about the role, the structure of the group, the goals, the biggest challenges and opportunities, keys to success, etc…

Remember, your goal is simply not to be eliminated. Establish rapport, establish credibility, establish interest (mutual) and get off the phone. Mission accomplished.


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