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Ultimate Guide to Preparing for a Phone Interview  

June 16, 2022

It’s really exciting to get an email from a prospective employer indicating that they may have an opportunity for you and that they would like to do a phone interview. As soon as that thrill happens, you may suddenly feel a sense of worry. Is this something you can do? How will you be prepared to nail it? Having a few tips can make a big difference in your success during a phone interview.

Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley can provide you with lots of help. Here, we’ll answer some of your questions and provide some tips on how to prepare.

Use Our Services as a First Step

One of the most important things to do now is to check out Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley’s no-cost job training and services. We can provide you with a wide range of fantastic resources and lots of interview prep help, including one-on-one support. We offer both in-person services and online resources. Take a few minutes to check out what we can do to help you ace that phone interview.

phone interview checklist

Tips for Having an Exceptional Phone Interview Experience

Give yourself time to learn how to prepare for your phone interview. These tips can help you get started and provide you with some insight into what to expect.

Learn about the organization

Your first step is to be familiar with the company. Look up the company online. Read through their website. If possible, check out the LinkedIn profile of the person that is in contact with you to understand their role. You want to know as much as you can about the company and the position.

You should:

  • Know what they do
  • Who their customers are
  • What type of news is out there about the company
  • What their social media presence is likely
  • Any press releases from the company (check their website or do a Google search to find them)

Go back to the job description

The next step is to review the job description again. Gather as much information as you can about the expectations of the job. You want to know what you are applying for, and sometimes, the interviewer wants to know that you understand the position as well.

If you understand the job description well enough, you can tell exactly what the company is looking for in a candidate. You know the experience they want from their applicant, the type of work you need to be able to do, and the qualities they want in an individual.

Then, tailor your responses to questions in the interview around the information you find here. For example, they may need someone that is detail-oriented, and that is a problem solver. In the responses to their questions, be sure those qualities come through in your answers.

Know how to answer: “tell me about yourself”

It is one of the most common questions asked during a phone interview. What do you want to tell them about yourself? It’s a hard-to-answer question initially, but it doesn’t have to be complex. Aim to create a statement that’s a few sentences long that outlines who you are and your past experiences that may relate to this position.

You don’t need to provide a life story here or outline every job you’ve had. Instead, explain why you’re interested in the job you are interviewing for and why you are qualified. Be sure to drop in a few tidbits about why, such as whether you have a passion for working to help others or you want to be a part of a growing organization.

Practice Some Questions and Answers

Even when the questions are expected, it helps to have a clear answer ready to go. Do a bit of practicing on your answers for questions like the following:

  • What experience do you have in this field?
  • What types of skills do you have that transfer to this job (pick those up from the job description when possible!)
  • What is your educational background?
  • What type of work do you want to be doing in 5 years?
  • How much experience do you have in…(computer programs applicable to the field, working with people with special needs, customer service, or other areas as it applies to the field).

Practice a few answers to these types of questions so you can easily answer them with confidence. You can even write down those answers to make sure you have good clarity.

Take the Time to Listen and Jot Down Information

During a phone interview, the interviewer is likely to tell you a bit about the job as well as the type of work you will have to do during it. You may learn about the hours you’ll work or get insight into the type of structure of the day. Listen closely – they may ask you some questions about this later.

Also, write down some things that interest you so you can bring them up later. That helps to show you were interested. It also allows you to answer this question, “Do you have any questions?” If you say “no,” that may mean you are not interested, or it may seem like you’re not committed. Instead, use one of the points discussed to ask for clarification or more information on it.

Creating a two-way dialogue like this is important. It helps the person doing the interview to really have a good understanding of your interest in the position. It also helps you get an idea of what the person on the other end is like.

Prepare for the Interview Experience

Many of today’s phone interviews are conversations held over Zoom. Others are just over the phone. In either case, you want to keep a few things in mind:

  • Find a quiet place to talk where no one is likely to bother you. Look for an area where the dog barking isn’t going to distract you, either.
  • Grab some paper and a pen to bring with you to jot down notes.
  • Be sure to have a phone that’s easy to hear, and that does not cut out all of the time. You don’t want to appear difficult to understand.
  • Make sure you speak clearly through the phone. You want to be sure you sound confident, too.
  • Be sure you’re seated and feeling at ease as much as possible before the interview.
  • Talk clearly but slowly. Don’t rush through the answers to the questions.
  • Make sure you are without distraction. Turn off any notifications on your phone.

Be Thoughtful to the Other Person

It can also be important for you to seem sincere and respectful. Use proper pronunciation and address the individual formally. Be sure to speak positively rather than being negative about any answer to the questions asked of you. Talk with a smile on your face so that it seems like your positiveness is coming right through the phone.

Preparing for your phone interview is not something to take lightly. Rather, it is something to put some extra time into ensuring that you get the best chance at the job. If a dog barks or someone comes into the room, that’s okay. What’s most important is that you get the right information to the person who is considering you for a job.