Preparing for Phone Interviews

By Nancy Wu

Since Accelerate works with clients and candidates all over the world, from Mexico to South Africa to Belgium to the U.S., it is much more feasible to do an interview over a Skype or FaceTime call than meeting in person. With the availability and increased use of technology in business, virtual interviews make recruitment processes faster and more efficient. Here are some things to keep in mind to ensure the most successful phone interview;

Location, location, location

Find a place where it’s quiet enough to hear your interviewer so you can give them your full attention. Make sure you have good cellphone or wifi reception; Starbucks or coffee shops is not recommended and should be an absolute last resort. There’s too much background noise and the wifi is spotty at best and nonfunctional at worst. The interviewer will understand if the call gets dropped and it’s out of either of your control, but it is better to be prepared and have the interview go as smoothly as possible.

Take notes

One of the perks of phone interviews is that you can look at your own prepared notes, as well as take notes during the interview. Create a cheat sheet beforehand, and include some common interview questions—occasions in which you faced a challenge, your long-term professional goals, your best and worst qualities, etc. Look up some information about the company and jot down a few facts about them, too. Your notepad can also be useful for jotting down questions while the interviewer is talking. Save them for the end, so you don’t interrupt the flow of the conversation.

Feel (and look) the part

Just because your interviewer won’t see you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get out of bed and put on clothes other than pajamas. Don’t see the phone interview as an opportunity to watch Netflix on mute in the background while talking to your interviewer. There’s no need to go black tie, but putting on a neat, professional outfit will energize you and get you in a professional mindset. Also, smile. Researchers have found that smiling can help people seem more friendly as well as relieve stress.

Be honest

And assertive. When the interviewer asks potentially uncomfortable questions that deal with salary and relocation, be completely honest and ask for what you need. Candidates are sometimes afraid to ask for too much and thus downplay their expectations, and later reject the offer because the salary was too low. It is better to be completely upfront with your expectations about the new role than to back out later. This mostly applies for salary, but can be extended to other aspects of the job. For example, if the role is too junior or if you would be dissatisfied with the everyday tasks of the role, you should let the interviewer know that it wouldn’t be a good fit.

Good luck!