Even though phone interviews can seem less daunting, it’s crucial to prepare for a call with the same diligence as you would an in-person interview.
Many creative firms and in-house departments will conduct a phone interview prior to scheduling in-person meetings with job candidates. But some creative professionals don’t take the opportunity as seriously as they should.
As an interviewer, I was recently subjected to a chaotic start to a phone interview when a job candidate gave me the wrong contact number by mistake. Instead of her cell phone number, she gave me the home line of her parents. The applicant wasn’t there when I called, but I did speak to her confused mother, who promptly handed the phone to her equally confused father. He confirmed I had the wrong number as dogs loudly barked in the background.
Let’s just say it was less than ideal.
If you’ve scored a phone interview your goal is to get the opportunity to meet in person. So, don’t leave anything to chance. Here are some steps you can take to make the best impression when it comes to answering the call.
Plan your location with care
Whenever possible use a landline so that you don’t have to worry that your connection will let you down. If that’s not an option make sure your cell phone is fully charged, you have reliable reception and there’s little to no background noise. You want your interviewer to be able to hear everything you say clearly. Selecting a secure, private space will allow you to focus and help you articulate your responses with clarity.
Have your mind (and materials) in the right place
Give yourself ample time to get “into the zone” before the phone interview begins. If you’re feeling really nervous, work on your breathing and focus your mind on times when you’ve felt confident.
Keep your resume, the job description and any important notes about the company or interviewer close at hand. Having a glass of water within arm’s reach is another good idea in case your throat gets dry. And it should go without saying, but shut down your email or anything else that isn’t directly related to your interview. Your interviewer will be able to tell if you’re not giving your full attention to the conversation, especially if they overhear a clicking keyboard.
Pretend you’re in the same room as the interviewer
Approach the phone interview as if you were meeting the interviewer in person. Dressing for the occasion is a good way to prep psychologically, as you’re likely to feel far more professional in work attire than in your favorite workout gear.
Here’s another trick: smile as you talk. It will help you come across as more upbeat and engaged.
Display impeccable phone etiquette
Answer the call by stating your name, and have a brief, polite phrase prepared to open the conversation. Thanking the interviewer for the opportunity to connect is a great way to start.
And while it’s easy to get caught up in worrying about delivering the best answers possible, it’s just as important to be a great listener. Whatever you do, don’t interrupt the interviewer when he or she is talking.
Then, it’s over to you. Don’t mumble your answers or speak too quickly. Take your time with your responses; you don’t need to hit all your key achievements in response to the first question. Don’t be afraid to pause after you’ve answered a question. It can be hard to read someone on the phone so don’t feel compelled to fill what may seem like an awkward, prolonged pause. Some silence is OK. Remember that your interviewer may be taking notes or formulating a follow-up question.
Close the phone interview with class
Phone interviews tend to happen at the early stages of a recruiting process, so if you are really excited about the opportunity, your objective is obviously to make it to the next stage. With that goal in mind, you can potentially save some of your questions for the second round, but don’t hesitate to ask about what the next steps would be.
Finally, it’s smart to send your interviewer a thank-you note or email, after the call. Use it as an opportunity to offer your appreciation for the opportunity and reiterate your great interest in the job. As an interviewer, I can tell you that it absolutely makes a strong and lasting positive impression.
Getting ready for a video interview? Watch our video for advice on making the best possible impression: