6 Tips for Phone Interview Success

Daily inspiration and advice for the ambitious savvy young professional

6 Tips for Phone Interview Success

This is a guest post written by previous Intern Queen intern, Allison Goldstein. Let’s state the obvious: a phone interview can be a fairly frightening experience. More likely than not, you’ll spend your final moments before the call pacing around the room, praying, mumbling encouraging words to yourself and maybe even performing some sort of interpretive dance-related ritual. Although I can’t say that I don’t do the same (no comment about the interpretive dance), I’ve come to find that I actually enjoy being interviewed over the phone. So whether you’re going into finance or PR, I’d like to share some of my most recent tips for phone interview success. Do Your Research! Ah! This is SO important. Because a phone interview does not allow potential employers to analyze things like body language and charisma, they’re probably going to ask you some trickier questions. Anything is fair game! During my last phone interview, I was asked super specific questions about the brand I was interviewing for and events the company had held in previous weeks. Luckily, I had attended one of the events, so I was able to use my personal experience to give some solid responses. Whether or not you’ve had a chance to do the same, spend a good amount of time learning this stuff beforehand, and you’ll be less likely to get caught off guard. Practice! It’s pretty much a guarantee that you’re going to be asked why you want to intern or work for such and such place and why you think you’ll be a good fit there. So why not have your answers ready? I spent hours and hours rehearsing before my most recent phone interview, and I even had my mom, roommates and friends ask me some practice questions. When I was asked similar ones during the call, I already knew exactly what I wanted to talk about and points I needed to hit. Claim Your Territory! Maybe you live in a sorority house with 50 other girls, or maybe you’re in an apartment with three other roommates. Regardless, reserve a spot to do the interview and tell your friends where and when it’s going to happen. I have a horrible fear of someone walking into the room while I’m on the phone with a potential employer, so I always make a sign that says “INTERVIEWING” and tape it to the door. I also mass text my friends and roommates to let them know I’m going to be busy. Whatever works for you, make it happen! Have Your Materials Handy! Remember that research I talked about earlier? Have it with you! The beauty of the phone interview is that you cannot be seen, so you can literally be looking at whatever you want (as long as you’re able to stay focused). This is a huge one for me. During my last phone interview, I had an entire page of highlighted notes, my cover letter, my resume and one of the company’s products (okay, it was a magazine, not that weird!) spread out on a surface in front of me. And during the last 10 minutes before the call, I wrote myself some quick reminders and an inspirational memo at the top of my resume. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself when it’s all over. Be Engaging! It’s really easy to come across as boring and spacey over the phone. Don’t let it happen! I always try to focus on the tone I’m using when I respond to questions, and when the other person is speaking, I usually try to throw in some filler words so he/she knows I’m engaged. One of the first things I said to my most recent interviewer was, “I am so excited to get to talk to you!” But keep in mind, I knew it was appropriate because of the language that we had used in our emails. Feel out the situation; if it’s appropriate, do it! TIP: Try smiling while you’re speaking. People can tell! Ask Questions! Just like in an in-person interview, your potential employer is probably going to end his or her remarks by asking if you have any questions. Your response is ALWAYS yes! I like to ask about the time commitment, daily responsibilities, the company in general or something that came up in our conversation. One of my go-to’s is, “What is the most important trait for an intern/employee to have in order to succeed in this position?” That way, your interviewer knows you're genuinely interested in the gig. Just remember, (almost) anything is better than nothing. Good luck! And don’t forget to send a thank you note ;) Have some tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them! Tweet me at @AllisonM92.