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Ace Your Next Phone Interview

Project confidence, even when they can’t see your face.

For the obvious reason, a lot more interviewing and hiring is occurring over phone calls lately. Even before the pandemic shut everything down, people have begun to realize that you don’t really need to have an in-person, face-to-face meeting if you’re only getting a first impression. This is why, especially with multi-stage hiring processes, the first stage is almost always a phone interview. While there are certainly some universal tactics that can be applied to any interview format, phone interviews are a tricky space; because the interviewer can’t see your face and body language when you respond to them, they have make inferences based on how you speak and react. Here’s how to make sure those inferences are good ones.

First, make sure to schedule your call at a time when you know you won’t be disturbed. You want to be by yourself in a quiet room; if you live with other people, stress to them that you are not to be bothered at this particular time. If something comes up in your life that will make the call difficult and impossible, don’t try to put it off or juggle it. Contact the interviewer and ask to reschedule. As long as it doesn’t happen more than once, they should be more than happy to accommodate you.

During the interview itself, don’t try to multitask. Sit down and listen carefully to what the interviewer is telling you. Some people have tics they do while on the phone like pacing around or laying down; if you need to do that to relax, that’s fine, as long as it’s nothing loud. Try to keep your tone professional, yet conversational. As I said, they’ll be making inferences based on how you address them, so be friendly, be courteous, and be eager. It probably wouldn’t hurt to try to smile, either. Even if they can’t see you, it may help to perk up your tone of voice.

Finally, make sure you’re engaged with the call. Take notes, ask questions, and ask about the next steps in the hiring process. You want to show this interviewer that you’re ready and able to do this job, and you want to know what you need to do to make it happen. If they send you an email after the call, make sure to respond immediately with any information they request and a gracious thank-you.

It can be weird to try and project your entire self through nothing but your voice, but it’s more than possible. Paint an image in the interviewer’s head of a model employee!

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