In our career advice series, we’ve looked at how to get yourself noticed by letting your personality shine through on your CV, some basic rules for how to improve your writing for a CV, and how to prepare for interviews. Let’s say you’ve nailed all of those – the next step is a phone interview.
The phone interview is an important stage in the process. Some of the preparation tips we’ve discussed before will be relevant – especially things like researching the company and having some questions prepared. But there is also some specific advice we can offer which will help you execute a great phone interview and move to the next stage: the face-to-face.
We’ve broken them down into a few main tips.
Get on your feet
It might sound strange, but try not to sit down while you’re on the phone. It’s pretty well-documented that people speak in a more active and engaging way when they’re standing up or moving around – go to the sales floor at any company and you’ll see what we mean. Get out the chair!
Keep distractions to a minimum
Make sure the call is arranged for a time when you can be in a comfortable and quiet environment. Your home or a private office is best – you want to be able to hear everything clearly and not have any distractions. Avoid coffee shops and don’t do it when you’re driving. If it’s not convenient, rearrange.
Have your CV to hand
Keeping your CV in front of you is a necessity. It lets you effectively have a cheat sheet in front of you (remember, you’ve put a lot of hours into making it a concise and impactful summary of your career to date) that can help you answer questions. Don’t read directly from it, but do use it as a prompt.
Define talking points ahead of time
Think of and prepare some useful and informative stories about your experience ahead of time. We’ve said before that once you hit more senior roles, selling yourself is just like selling a product. You’ll want to have clearly defined talking points that demonstrate why you’re a great candidate. Don’t force them into the conversation if it’s not appropriate; it’s still the interviewers’ right to guide the direction of the interview, but they should come up naturally instead.
This goes back to last week’s article about getting to know the company beforehand, but it’s a point worth driving home. You also want to do the same with the job itself – get a copy of the job description and alongside it, have a copy of how you could best contribute to that job. It’ll be like your CV – a useful prompt and guide for the conversation.
Again, this goes back to prep. Have a minimum of five questions ready, on a number of topics. It demonstrates your interest and will give you a better idea of the job and the company culture. Assuming you’ve followed these steps, you should smash the phone interview and finally come face-to-face with your potential next employer.