As a potential employee, you hope the interview process will be smooth sailing. Today, though, before you ever get to that face-to-face interview, the chances are you’ll have to get through a phone interview first. With an increase in cross-border hiring (meaning from city-to-city, state-to-state, and country-to-country), a phone interview is often the first initial step. 

Employers are going with the phone interview option as a first round of screening potential employees because it is less expensive and takes less of their time than setting up person-to-person interviews. This is especially so if it requires traveling for either party. A recent survey  found that almost 60% of the 515 participating HR managers reported the phone interviews happened “quite often.” 

When you think it about it, though, most every job starts with a phone call. Even if it isn’t a scheduled ‘formal’ interview by phone, there is often some type of conversation with somebody within the company of a potential employer. It may be nothing more than a brief conversation with the receptionist to get directions, it is the first impression.

What job seekers need to realize is that even if the interview isn’t face-to-face, they still need to show up with their A-game in place and ready to go full court for the win. Even with the best of intentions, your interview could be misinterpreted by your inflection, the pace of the conversation and your tone during the interview.

Here, we offer 6 steps that will help you nail the deal with your next phone interview:

Step 1: Be Prepared

Hopefully, you have a few days to prepare for your phone interview. There are some instances that it may be a spur-of-the-moment interview, but if you have time, use it wisely to get ready. Use a day to research the company and find out as much as you can. Use GlassDoor, Google, LinkedIn and the company's website. Next, take a day to list questions you’ll want to ask. Questions such as “What specific qualities, skills are preferred in the candidate?” and  mention something you’ve read during your research about the company and ask how the position you’ve applied for will contribute to the company’s success.

These are questions that will prove you have taken the time to do your ‘homework’ and come in prepared. Use the phone interview to find out the things that are often vague in a face-to-face interview such as details about the company, the position, and the environment. If you’re lucky, you can find a photograph on LinkedIn of the person(s) you’ll be interviewing with.

Step 2: The Basics

Make sure you are in a room that won’t have noisy interruptions like the dog, the kids, and traffic. If possible, arrange for the house to be empty of anyone and everyone. If you can’t do that, get the quietest room possible and lock the door.

If you have access to one, a landline is much more reliable than a cell phone. If you only have a cell phone, be sure you have it completely charged up so that your battery doesn’t die. And be a part of the house that has the best connection.  The first thing you should ask the party that is interviewing you is for a phone number so you can call them back if the call is disconnected or dropped. 

Step 3: Put On A Game Face

Dress for a face-to-face interview. When you are dressed for an interview, you’ll sound like you’re on an interview. Smile throughout the interview, even place a mirror near you so you can see that you’re smiling, A smile comes through in the voice and this is important since the interviewer can’t see your body movements and posture. Prepare your interview area with a glass of water on standby and 30-60 minutes before time, suck on a piece of hard candy so that your throat is moistened.

Step 4: The Invisibility Factor Is Your Advantage 

A phone interview is very much like an open-book test in the fact that all of the info you need to sound informed can be right there on your computer screen. Minimize the amount of paper you have in front of you, just a notepad & pen so that you can take notes, but keep the stack of bills and correspondence to a minimum. Have your CRV or resume printed out and in front of you so that you can follow along with the interviewer.

Step 5: The 3 C’s 

Don’t forget the 3 C’s: Concision, Concentration, and Courtesy. Phone interviews are popular because employers are trying to save time. So be conscious of their time and shorten your answers. If they want you to expand, they’ll ask. Stay focused on the interview, taking notes and refrain from being distracted with multitasking. Be courteous and polite from the beginning of the conversation to the end. And regardless how you felt the interview went, be polite, be professional and say thank you at the end.


Step 6: The Follow Up

One to two days after your phone interview, follow up just as you do with a face-to-face interview. Do this by email and summarize the highlights of your interview and what was discussed. On the subject line, make it clear who you are and the purpose of the email with your name and the position you interviewed for. This is your opportunity to reiterate your desire and interest in the job. You can even include a link to a piece you found to be of interest regarding the company and/or the industry.