How to prepare for a phone interview

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How to prepare for a phone interview

Things to remember:

  1. Find a quiet place to have your call where you can feel comfortable to speak freely and not be interrupted. Your interviewer should not be able to hear any background noise such as music, television, or dogs barking (I speak from personal experience with two golden retrievers). And if available, landlines generally have better connections and audio quality than cell phones, but in today’s world, a cell in a quiet place can certainly work too.
  2. Don’t read too much into the way an interviewer responds to your answers, some people, especially HR and talent acquisition professionals, have great poker faces. Always act as if things are going excellently.
  3. Always project a positive image. Don’t talk negatively about past employers or position responsibilities. You can justify your decisions without bashing anyone. Trust me, a savvy recruiter can read between the lines, but will respect you all the more for professionally presenting your reasons for wanting to leave your current organization.
  4. Smile when responding, even if you have to force yourself or think it’s silly – do it. It affects the tone and quality of your voice over the phone. I recommend practicing a few questions in front of a mirror, so you can see the difference smiling makes. And a nice byproduct of smiling, you will feel better, it is proven to be healthy for you, and you will enjoy the interview more.
  5. The money question. If you get asked about your current compensation – answer “I’m aware of the information Jean (recruiter) shared with you regarding my expectations, and at this point that’s what I am targeting: $”XXXXX”.*
    • *If you have any other major pieces of compensation that you would like your interviewer to be aware of, bring them up as well. “I am due a bonus of $5,000 on July 1, or I am scheduled for a merit increase next month, etc., so, I’d obviously be taking this into consideration as well.”
  6. Lastly, create a skill/accomplishment worksheet – this will help to refresh your memory about your past accomplishments before you get asked the questions. You won’t have to appear to be digging for answers. Often, your interviewer may not ask you the right questions to bring up your expertise, so having a cheat sheet close by helps you weave your strengths into the conversation.
    How to prepare your skill/accomplishment worksheet:

    • You will want two to three accomplishments or experiences that really show you are the candidate that shines above the rest. These accomplishments should reflect strong leadership, tangible expertise that is significant in your field, and initiative and drive that show how you are someone that gets results.
    • Start with a blank page with a line drawn down the middle to provide two columns.
      • In the left column, list two to three of your accomplishments/achievements while working at your current and past organizations
      • In the right column, list the strategy, implementation and development processes you did for the achievement.
    • Keep this worksheet near your phone for easy access during the call.
  7. Next – and this is very important as soon as you hang up the phone please shoot us a quick email that answers the following questions so we are prepared when the client calls us back.
    • Why do you feel you can do this job?
    • After hearing from the company do you feel you want this job?
    • What about the company/position is attractive to you?
    • What red flags came up as a result of your interview?
    • What questions do you still want answered?
    • Did they bring up money in any way? If so, what was discussed?


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