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Phone Interview Do’s and Don’ts

Phone Interview Do’s and Don’ts

February 14, 2022

Phone interviews can work in your favour if you know what you’re doing. If you’re invited to a phone interview by your recruitment agency and are worried that you won’t be able to show them your best side, fear not. There are a few preparatory steps you can take to make sure that you are ready to share your best side.

In this guide, we’ll share a few simple steps to help brush up your phone interview skills to ace any interview. Remember, this isn’t like chatting to your friends or even making a sales call. A phone interview is often brief, so you have a narrow window of opportunity to make a good first impression. Here’s how to make sure your phone interview sets you apart from the competition.

Do prepare as normal

The first step to nailing your phone interview is to make sure you are prepared. You can’t take this call from your bed while you’re still in your pyjamas. Dress for success and treat it as you would any other interview. This means getting ready as you normally would and dressing to impress. Getting dressed in formal attire will help to put you in the right headspace.

Don’t use speakerphone

Taking the call on speakerphone is risky as it could make it difficult for the other person to hear you. If you want to keep your hands free to take notes, try using a headset to take the call. Just make sure that you check this works in advance. And if you’re using wireless headphones to make the call, make sure they are fully charged, along with your phone.

Do find space to focus

Live in a busy household? You’re going to want to find a quiet space to take the call. And don’t try to multitask while you’re on the phone. You shouldn’t be making coffee, microwaving your lunch, checking emails or browsing the internet at all. Find a quiet space where you can sit with a notepad to take notes. Make sure you have a copy of your CV and cover letter in front of you so you can reference this.

Phone Interview Do's and Don'ts CMD Recruitment

Don’t waffle

A phone interview is often more difficult because you miss out on some of the important visual cues that let you know how something is going. This means that it’s much easier to talk too much without realising. With a phone interview, you should keep your answers shorter and then simply ask if they would like you to elaborate. They’ll tell you if they need more information.

Do find somewhere private

You should never take a phone interview in a public place like a coffee shop. You’ll have less control over your surroundings and could easily be distracted by things going on around you. Not to mention, the background noise could make it very difficult to be heard and understood.

Don’t let your connection fail

If you know that your phone signal is flakey at the best of times, try to find somewhere you can take the call where you know it will be strong and reliable. If you have a landline, this would be better as it means you are less likely to suffer from a bad connection.

Do get ready in advance

Don’t leave everything up to chance. Make sure you are ready well in advance and then check that everything is working as it should. Check the following around 30 minutes before the call:

  • Does your phone have sufficient charge?
  • Do you have a charger nearby as backup?
  • Does your phone headset work?
  • Does your phone signal work in your current location? Don’t be afraid to speak up

If you do suffer from a bad connection and you are struggling to hear, don’t be afraid to speak up. It’s far better to say something than to simply try to answer questions when you aren’t really sure what the interviewer is asking. If you need them to repeat something, it’s not rude to ask them to do so. 

If the connection is very poor, you could suggest moving the call to Zoom or similar. This is why it’s vital to make sure you are dressed for an interview in case the phone interview unexpectedly becomes a video call.

Do take plenty of notes

Keep a notebook close by and take notes throughout the interview. This will help you to process your thoughts and ensure you are also actively participating in the interview. Remember that it is a two-way conversation, so you are free to ask questions about the role and the company.

You should also take notes before the interview so that you are clear on the points you want to get across. A phone interview is often shorter than an in-person interview, so you need to focus and make sure you mention everything you want to mention.

Don’t forget the usual etiquette

At the end of the phone interview, make sure you confirm the next steps and get the email address of the hiring manager. This will enable you to send a quick thank you note and reiterate your interest in working for the company. 

This is a small but significant step that can help to set you apart from the competition. It will also open up the lines of communication so that even if you aren’t the right fit for this role, you’ll have a foot in the door if another role becomes available.

Do be prepared for the next steps

A phone interview is likely to be the first part of a series of interviews. It’s a preliminary interview that allows them to quickly determine if you have the skills, experience and attitude that they are looking for.

You should expect there to be additional steps in the interview process, so don’t assume that this is the only chance you have to make a good first impression. If you have to prepare for a follow-up interview, use the notes from your phone interview to determine the types of questions they might ask you.

Phone interviews might sound daunting, but there’s nothing to be worried about. Try to think of it as an opportunity to get to know the hiring manager, learn more about the opportunity, and share a little bit about your motivation to work for the company. Don’t overthink it, but do make sure you are sufficiently prepared.


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