The Do’s and Don’ts of Phone Interviews to Help You Nail the Call

Few things are more exciting than getting the call (or email) from a recruiter that says, “Thank you for submitting your application to Company X. We would like to interview for the role of Y at your earliest convenience” – especially when you’re comfortable in a conference room or over Zoom. But then you read down to the part that says “Please let us know which phone number Recruiter A can reach you at,” and your stomach sinks a little as you realize…a phone interview?

Many people believe that they make a better impression in person, but if this is you, don’t panic. We’ll walk you through the do’s and don’ts of phone interviews so you can nail the call.

DO Treat It Like a Zoom Call

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last two years, chances are you’ve had your fair share of experiences with Zoom meetings. The same rules apply to phone interviews: reserve a quiet, distraction free space for the call, make sure your phone is fully charged, and have a notepad and water nearby. You should also dress the part if for no other reason than it will boost your confidence.

DON’T Wing It

A phone call may feel less formal than an in-person interview but it’s every bit as important. You should still practice your responses (preferably in a mock interview) so you know what to say “about yourself” or “your biggest weakness.” Phone interviews also give you the added advantage of being able to have a cheat sheet. While you should never read your answers verbatim, it might help you to have your resume or a few bullet points on-hand to jog your memory when the pressure’s on.

DO Sound Excited

One of the biggest mistakes people make in phone interviews is not sounding energetic and excited enough. Because the person can’t see you, you have to work extra hard to show that you’re enthusiastic about the role and meeting with them. Smiling when you speak can actually carry through in your voice, and if something’s funny, don’t be afraid to laugh. Taking the time to do some extra research on the company and role can also show your investment, especially if you can have notes nearby.

But DON’T Talk Too Fast

It’s easier to interrupt or talk too fast when you’re not cued into the other person’s body language. Don’t be afraid of moments of silence – it’s alright to let the conversation breathe a little. When the recruiter asks you a question, wait a beat or two before answering to be sure they’re finished speaking. And if they interrupt you, stop talking to let them finish their thought before you speak again. Self-awareness is critical when you’re on the phone. With only your voice to carry you through, you want to make sure everything you’re saying is clear and concise—so catch yourself when you start to ramble or chatter a mile a minute.

DO Know How to Use Small Talk

Most people associate phone calls with what they aim for at work: quick, efficient bites that cut right to the chase. But leading with some small talk in your phone interview can help you establish a relationship with the recruiter — even if they can’t see your face.

DON’T Forget to Follow Up

As with all interviews, sending a follow-up email thanking the recruiter for their time is critical to making a good impression. Draft your email immediately after the call so your conversation is fresh in your head, then send it around three hours later.

DO Have a Glass of Water

This is a best practice I recommend for all interviews. Grab a glass of water (or a Coke or whatever refreshing beverage you enjoy) because you’re going to be doing a lot of talking. The last thing you want is dry mouth to start affecting your delivery. Take a sip in between answers to keep the vocal cords ready!

Post Up Careers can take you from the initial interview to the deal-closing handshake. We’ll dig into the job, mock interview you, provide feedback, and then do it again after helping you refine your pitch. Contact us here to schedule an appointment today.