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  1. Blog
  2. Interviewing
  3. December 11, 2023

20 Tips for Preparing for a Phone Interview: Before, During, & After

Your job search isn't over just yet

woman on a phone interview
Photo courtesy of Yan Krukau

Phone interviews serve as the crucial gateway to securing your dream job. While the lack of face-to-face interaction might seem less daunting, acing a phone interview requires meticulous preparation. Here's a comprehensive guide with 20 essential tips covering before, during, and after the interview to help you make a lasting impression.

Read more: Don’t Phone It In: 17 Tips for Nailing Your Phone Interview

Prepare for the phone interview: before

1. Research the company thoroughly

Delve into the company's history, mission, values, recent news, and any notable achievements. This knowledge demonstrates your genuine interest and aligns your responses with the company's goals. If you know who will interview you, research their background to find potential points of connection or conversation.

2. Review the job description

Make sure you understand the role's requirements and align your skills and experiences accordingly. Prepare examples that showcase your abilities relevant to the position. Speak to any key phrases in the description, such as “excellent organizational skills,” “expertise in managing multiple social media platforms,” or “intermediate proficiency in SQL.”

Read more: 4 Red Flags in Job Descriptions That Should Make You Think Twice

3. Practice for common interview questions

Anticipate questions about your strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and why you're interested in the role, as well as questions about hybrid work, artificial intelligence (AI), and other workplace trends. Practice concise yet detailed responses.

Some common phone interview questions may include:

  • Tell me a little about yourself.

  • What do you do in your current role?

  • Why do you want to leave your current job?

  • Why do you want to work here?

  • Do you have experience with X, Y, or Z?

  • What are your salary requirements?

Read more: A List of All the Phone Interview Questions They’ll Probably Ask

4. Prepare your questions

Craft insightful questions about the company culture, team dynamics, or the role itself. Engaging questions display your enthusiasm and eagerness to learn more.

Here are some questions you might ask in a phone interview:

  • Tell me more about X, Y, or Z in the job description. 

  • What do you like about working for the company?

  • Where do you expect the business to be in a year? Five years?

  • What are your company’s core values?

  • How do you ensure employees maintain a healthy work-life balance? 

  • The person you hire for this job—where do you imagine they might be in the organization in two years? Five years?

5. Set up your interview space

Choose a quiet, well-lit area with minimal distractions. Ensure your phone has a strong signal and is fully charged or plugged in. Test the connection and sound quality beforehand. Have a charger, headphones, a notepad, a glass of water, and anything else you might need close by.

6. Make a cheat sheet

Create a cheat sheet for your phone interview to help you stay organized and remember key points. Condense a few important facts about the company, including its values, recent achievements, and any notable industry trends, outline your own relevant experiences and achievements that align with the job description, and jot down insightful questions to ask the interviewer. Ensure it's concise and easily scannable for quick reference during the interview.

7. Dress well

Dressing professionally, even for a phone interview, can put you in the right mindset and boost your confidence. Don’t take the call in your pajamas.

8. Decide on a salary range

You’ll likely be asked about your salary expectations in a phone interview. Step one to figuring out your ideal salary range is research. 

“Don’t pull a number out of the air!” says career coach LaTrice Huff. “Look online, it can take seconds. LinkedIn has a salary research tool, Indeed has a search tool, Glassdoor has one. You can go to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Also, look at other job ads. I’m seeing companies now actually post their salary in the ad. The best way, though, I tell people, is to do two things: 1) look at what you actually need and want for your life, and 2) actually ask real people who are in the job. That’s the best way to get your salary range.” 

Read more: How to Answer: What Is Your Desired Salary?

Prepare for the phone interview: during

9. Start strong with a clear greeting

Be ready for the call at least ten minutes before the scheduled time. Answer the phone call professionally, stating your name and expressing enthusiasm to speak with the interviewer. Authenticity is key. Let your personality shine through while maintaining professionalism.

10. Smile while speaking

Even though the interviewer can't see you, smiling can reflect positively in your voice, conveying confidence and positivity. Modulate your tone to sound enthusiastic and engaged without being overly aggressive.

11. Listen actively

Pay close attention to the interviewer's questions and avoid interrupting. Take brief pauses before responding to gather your thoughts. Focus solely on the interview. Avoid checking emails or engaging in other activities while on the call.

12. Use clear and concise language

Be articulate and avoid using filler words such as "um," "uh," or "like" to demonstrate professionalism and clarity in your communication. 

13. Highlight your achievements

When the interviewer asks you what your strengths are, they’re assessing your ability to do the job. Share specific examples and anecdotes that highlight your accomplishments and how they relate to the role you're interviewing for.

For example, you can say, “I’m particularly good at leading a team. I’ve led several successful large scale projects, including an operational overhaul, which involved managing a team of 10 to completely rewrite how the organization delivers plans to clients, receives feedback, and agrees on changes.

14. Negotiate your salary

Be prepared to talk about your salary expectations once you’ve done the research to find your range. Practice various negotiation scenarios and know your “no” number (the salary that would mean you’d walk away from the job opportunity). Salary negotiation is also your opportunity to negotiate for more job benefits. Do you want tuition reimbursement? More vacation days? The flexibility to work from home? Bring those with you to your negotiation.

Read more: Can You Lose a Job Offer By Negotiating Salary?

15. Note important details

Jot down key points during the interview for potential reference in thank-you notes or future conversations. You might want to remember specific interview questions they asked, details about the role, and their answers to your questions about the working environment, company culture, or growth opportunities. 

Read more: How to Ask About Growth Opportunities During an Interview

Prepare for the phone interview: after

16. Send a thank-you email

Send a thank-you email within 24 hours to reiterate your interest in the role and appreciate the interviewer's time and insights. Include specifics from your conversation to make the email more personalized. Need help? Here’s how to write a simple thank-you email after a phone interview.

17. Reflect on the interview

Self-evaluation post-interview is crucial. Assess your performance through an interview autopsy and write down everything you remember about the phone interview. Note areas of strength and areas that could be improved upon for future interviews.

18. Follow up on next steps

If a timeline was discussed, follow up respectfully if you haven't heard back within that period. When two weeks have passed following your interview, it’s perfectly reasonable to send another email to follow up on the job’s status.

Read more: How to Send a Job Interview Follow-up Email (with Examples)

19. Network 

Continuing to network and learn about your industry after an interview keeps you updated on trends and developments, fostering continuous growth and knowledge expansion. Ongoing engagement showcases your commitment to self-improvement and dedication to staying current within your industry, offering the potential to leave a positive, lasting impression on your potential employer.

20. Continue your job search

Avoid putting all your hopes on one opportunity. Continue exploring other potential positions to keep your options open. Don’t stop your job search until you get that job offer!

By incorporating these tips into your preparation routine, you'll confidently navigate through phone interviews, leaving a lasting impression and increasing your chances of securing that coveted job opportunity.

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