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How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

Phone interviews are usually a chance for an HR professional or hiring manager to initially connect with you, screen you for desired skills and experience, get a sense of how much you know about the company, and how interested you are in the opportunity.

Things to remember during a phone interview:

  • Always project a positive image. Don’t talk negatively about past employers or position responsibilities. You can justify your decisions without bashing anyone.
  • Smile as you answer questions. It may sound silly, but it affects the tone and quality of your voice over the phone.
  • Do not chew gum or eat during the conversation.
  • Ensure you are in a quiet space and allotted enough time for the interview.
  • Use your voice and words to make a great first impression. Avoid repetitive phrases or fillers like, uh, um, things like that, like, I mean, basically, etc. Sit up straight, enunciate, and don’t interrupt the interviewer.
  • Have your resume and notes in front of you. It’s also advisable to have pen and paper ready so that you can take notes throughout the interview.
  • Don’t read too much into the way an interviewer responds to your answers. HR Professionals are usually trained to ask a specific set of questions and they may have on a “poker face.”
  • Be focused, clear and concise. Avoid rambling, deviating from the question that was asked, and sharing unnecessary information. On the other end of the spectrum, do not give short, one-sentence answers that don’t dive into your experience and what you can do.
  • Prior to the interview, refresh your memory about your work history, skills, accomplishments, and behavioral examples of your performance. That way, you’ll feel confident and won’t have to dig for answers.
  • If you get asked about your compensation, share your target that you have discussed with your recruiter. If you decide to share your current compensation, be clear about the total compensation (including base, bonus, etc.). It is generally best to give a target range, rather than a highly specific number.
  • The interviewer will likely ask if you have any questions. Prepare several questions so that even if they answer a couple of them throughout the call, you will still have a few ready to ask. Not asking any questions is a sign of disengagement and shows that the candidate doesn’t care too much about the role or the opportunity.