5 tips for a great phone interview
How to ace the conversation when you can’t meet in person
At a Glance: Even if you’re interviewing over the phone, dress professionally, find a quiet spot and pay attention to your body language.
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Whether you’re in the early rounds of a job application process or you don’t live near the company you’ve applied to work for, there are many reasons an in-person interview is not always possible. While it’s challenging to dazzle an interviewer with your presence when they can’t see you, it’s important to be prepared for the nuances of a phone interview.
Dress the part
As tempting as it is to wear sweats during a phone interview, don’t do it. Even though the person on the other end of the line can’t see you, it’s still important to dress as though you’re meeting your interviewer in person. Whether you realize it or not, a suit, nice blouse or dress will automatically boost your confidence.
One benefit of a phone interview is that they can’t see your interview space. Use that to your advantage by laying some items that might be helpful during your conversation out in front of you, such as a copy of your résumé for quick referencing, a note pad with prepared talking points and questions — and for taking notes — a glass of water, and even a picture of who you’re interviewing with to help you make a personal connection. But make sure you’re organized — you don’t want the interviewer to hear you shuffling papers in the background.
Find a quiet place
There is nothing worse than losing your train of thought in the middle of answering an interview question. To feel completely focused, conduct your interview in a quiet, clutter-free space in your home, away from distractions such as the television. As a precaution, you can even put a sign on your door, reminding your kids, spouse or roommates that you’re on an important phone call and shouldn’t be disturbed.
Be aware of your body language
Just because the interviewer can’t see you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice positive body language. Smiling while on the phone brings more energy and excitement when you talk, while sitting up straight — rather than slouching or laying on the couch — gives your voice more strength and clarity.
Send a thank-you immediately
Phone interviews are often pre-qualifiers for in-person meetings, and you may not have time to send a snail-mail thank-you before an employer makes a decision about who’s moving on to the next round. Instead, send an email an hour or two after you hang up, thanking the interviewer for his or her time, and referencing a few points from your conversation.
Don’t fret if an in-person interview simply isn’t in the cards. Use the situation to your advantage and put your best foot (or voice) forward.