5 Tips for Making the Best Impression In Your Next Phone Interview
Historically, prospective employers have reserved the phone interview for candidates who are relocating, where the interviewer is located in a different location or as a “last resort” format in interviewing candidates. In more recent weeks, with the Covid-19 crisis, this method has come into favor as an initial step in the recruiting process to avoid delay while still “flattening the curve.”
By no means is a phone interview less important than an in-person interview. It is a means to determine professional and personal fit, but without the advantage of personal connection. Therefore, it is important to take it seriously and truly prepare to ensure you make the best impression despite the challenges. Here are five tips to consider when scheduled for a phone interview:
- Prepare: Do your research. Preparation is always important and phone interviews are no exception to this rule.
- Review the Firm Bio and LinkedIn profile of the interviewer(s) with whom you are interviewing. Become familiar with the firm details, the practice group, recent lateral hires (or departures) and current work. Tip: When reviewing the firm’s online materials, pay close attention to the language used to describe their culture and distinguishing factors.
- If there is a job description, review it so you can highlight ways in which your experience and skills align with the role. If there is no description, connect with your recruiter on the priorities for the role.
- Refresh yourself on your own practice, path and historical work as well.
2. Practice: Practice makes perfect. You do not have a crystal ball and cannot predict the questions you will be asked. However, you can practice answering typical questions so you are ready for anything that comes your way.
- The goal is to practice so that you are succinct, strong, and you cover the key points in your answers. If there are any “red flags” or gaps in your resume, be prepared to address them.
- If you are speaking to a recruiting representative, the questions may be more check-list oriented on your experience as it relates to the job description. The conversation may also include your compensation expectations.
- Be prepared to illustrate your skills and knowledge with specific examples highlighting work experience. This will result in more powerful and more memorable answers.
3. Logistics: Take care of logistics in advance of your call in order to avoid hiccups.
- Locate yourself in a quiet spot, with no distractions and make sure you have good reception. We’ve all had that call where there is a barking dog or a siren in the background, resulting in an awkward and frustrating conversation. A car is always a safe place to call if all else fails.
- While you hope you will not miss the call, it can happen. Make sure you have an outgoing message, which is in your voice, sounds businesslike and leaves no question marks if they have the right number.
- Have relevant documents and information within arm’s reach. Print or pull up the screens on your computer of your own resume, a deal sheet and the interviewer’s bio. Tip: Create a short list of bulleted points you want for instant recall. The fact that you can have notes with you during the phone interview is a huge bonus, and keeping any written notes in short-form will help you avoid sounding scripted.
4. Performance: Make sure you are positive, powerful, and focused on the call to make the best impression.
- Since the interviewer won’t be able to see your facial expressions and/or body language, make sure you telegraph your engagement and enthusiasm about the opportunity and company. Tip: Stand up while you are speaking – this tends to result in more energy in your voice.
- Be concise and avoid rambling answers. One of the keys to a successful phone interview is maintaining strong engagement, keeping it conversational and avoiding a question and answer format.
- Listen to your interviewer. Always be yourself; however, pay attention to the cadence of your interviewer’s pace so that you are aligned with them in flow of the conversation.
5. Show Gratitude: It is critical that an interviewer never has a question on your appreciation and interest level.
- Start and end the call with thanks and enthusiasm about the opportunity.
- Follow up directly with your interviewer within 1-2 business days via email to express thanks and your interest in moving forward.
- Always remember, even if you are unsure if the fit is right, it is always preferable to communicate gratitude and leave a positive impression.
With recent market changes, the phone interview is becoming much more prevalent as an initial meeting. Perfecting your skills in this interviewing format will be essential in securing an invitation to move forward in the process. Taking this interview as seriously as a face-to-face interview through preparation, practice and performance adjustments will assure that you have a successful phone interview.
Please contact me or another member of the Mestel team with any additional questions on best practices or market opportunities!
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