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5 Phone Interviewing Tips to Win Hiring Managers Over

Bonny Calfy | July 20, 2016

For many employers, the phone interview is the first step in deciding whether a candidate has the basic needs for the position they’re looking to fill. It’s a relatively easy and inexpensive solution for first contact and often separates the possible fits from those who just aren’t a match to the organization, culturally or otherwise. Since it’s a simple solution, chances are if you haven’t yet participated in a phone interview, you will eventually. And if you want the job, you have to ace the phone screen. These tips will have you right on your way:

  1. Dress like someone’s watching. The staples for dressing for a job interview are straightforward: You look the part you want to have while practicing good hygiene. When it comes to the phone screen, the idea of how you look seems null, right? The interviewer isn’t sitting directly in front of you, so it’s easy to mistake this as an informal meeting. It might sound silly to wear something nice when all you are doing is sitting in the comfort of your own home. But, when you dress the part, you feel the part. By selecting professional interview attire and grooming as though you are in front of a potential employer, you are saying, “I know this is a serious step toward getting the job I want.” The interviewer might not see how you’re approaching the meeting, but they will hear it.
  2. Keep your résumé nearby. This is a golden rule that’s standard for every interview, whether it be phone, video or in-person. Interviews are intense and you might find yourself at a loss for words. The résumé and cover letter provide you reference materials when the interviewer asks for specific examples. This is a little like an open-book test. If there are any additional notes you believe could come in handy– for example, personal references or portfolios– have them on hand. While you can blame nerves on a lapse in conversation, tough questions or the attitude of the interviewer, with helpful talking points at your disposal, you can avoid it.
  3. Have a great sitting or standing posture. Similar to dressing for the part, assuming a professional posture while in an interview will bring you into the moment. Do not fall for the trap of believing the phone interview is any less of a professional event by lounging on your bed or laying down while speaking with a potential employer. The byproduct of great posture is confidence, which will radiate from your voice and in your answers.
  4. Have a good connection. If you lose the call, you might lose the chance to speak with the interviewer. This is especially true if they have a panel all calling in from different locations with various schedules. Be sure your sound quality is good as well. Before the interview, call a friend to be sure all is right with you device. Additionally, avoid taking these interviews while driving, in a coffee shop or just about anywhere other than a quiet, secluded area. Background noise, while sometimes unavoidable, could really leave a poor impression. The distraction could make it appear as though you cannot plan ahead, schedule accordingly or even worse: It might detract from all the great experience and skills you’ve shared.
  5. Smile and pause. Think back to the last phone call you were on. Acquaintance or family, you could probably quickly assess the mood of the individual to whom you were speaking. Smiles are infectious in person, and by smiling while you talk on the phone, your voice naturally takes a brighter tone. Also, be sure to avoid rambling or speaking too fast by taking breaths between each sentence and question. It’s ok and even advisable to have a glass of water nearby so you can break for a quick sip. Pausing is not only a great time for you to collect your thoughts, but it helps the listener retain all the ideas you spoke on previously. In a phone screening, your voice is your tool for conveying all the information an interviewer needs to feel confident in inviting you to the next step in the interview process. The tone and rate of speech is important to keeping the interviewer invested in what you have to say.

Think of the phone interview as practice for an in-person or video interview. If you treat the experience as though the interviewer is actually with you, he or she will sense your warmth and personality even through the phone.

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s recruitment marketer team lead, Bonny Calfy writes about such topics as human capital management, company culture, talent acquisition and career advice. Her brand-awareness efforts at Paycom have included launching Paycom Careers’ blog and social media channels, and producing several recruiting videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside of work, Bonny enjoys reading, fishing and spending time with her son and husband.