Written by: John Lemp
Phone Interviews In College — How To Make The Cut
Congratulations! You have applied to a job or internship and are now being contacted by an employer to schedule a phone interview. Phone interviews are a crucial component of the recruitment and hiring processes and generally serve as the first round interview for a job or internship position. Employers use phone interviews to gauge your oral communication abilities and your levels of interest in the firm and the role to which you applied. Although text messaging and email have curbed the influence of phone skills and oral communication to an extent, one’s abilities to communicate verbally are nonetheless critical in the 21st Century workplace.
The following are some tips about how to successfully interview via phone:
Quiet Place, Strong Service Connection: Ask your college or university’s career services office if you can reserve and use an interview room on campus. If you are unable to, find a quiet space where you will have good cell phone service. Let your roommates and / or housemates know that you will be having an interview during a certain time frame so you will be able to speak with the employer without interruptions. If your cell phone service tends to be spotty and inconsistent, I would recommend using a landline phone. If using a cellphone, turn off sounds and notifications to eliminate alerts for texts, social media, etc.
Be Prepared: The great thing about a phone interview is that the person with whom you are speaking can’t physically see you. With that being said, you will be able to have your resume out, take notes, look up information about the firm and the job description, etc. I recommend having your computer up and running with the employer’s website open, the webpage that contains the job description open, and another tab open if you need to search something quickly. But, if you are using your computer, keep typing at a minimum and make sure you are not typing too loudly — you do not want the person with whom you are speaking listening to you typing away. Also, DO NOT be on social media sites, checking email, sports scores, etc. These will distract you and the employer will likely be able to tell that you are not giving them your 100% undivided attention.
Phone Etiquette: First and foremost, DO NOT use speaker phone! In the speaker setting, there may be an echo and other clarity issues. Further, having the phone on speaker allows the person with whom you are interviewing the ability to hear all background noise, shuffling papers, mouse clicks, etc. While interviewing, use verbal active listening skills so that the interviewer knows you’re still on the phone. Use words like, “okay,” “right,” “sounds interesting.” When answering the phone, kindly introduce yourself and if the interviewer asks “Is this (your name)?” politely respond “Yes, this is me” or “Yes, this is (your name).” Try to engage in small talk at the beginning of the conversation — this really enables you to show your interpersonal skills and demonstrates that you are a friendly person.
Know Your Responses, Practice Beforehand: Almost all career services offices have practice interviews scheduled so you can refine your phone and in-person interviewing skills. Take advantage of these resources — they are there for you to use! Also, prepare some responses ahead of time. Questions that WILL be asked include: “Tell me a bit about yourself” and “Walk me through your resume.” Have your resume in clear view and a short list of your accomplishments available for you to review and discuss. However, try not to sound too calculated — allow the conversation to flow naturally.
These are “Can’t Miss” tips on how to successfully complete a phone interview and advance you to that final round, in-person interview where you can land a job or internship like a legend:
- Research the company and the position to which you have applied.
- Prepare questions to ask the interviewer.
- Be on time.
- Be honest, positive, and polite in your responses.
- Have your resume available and the company’s website open.
- DO NOT use speakerphone.
- Interview in a quiet space.
- Keep a glass of water within reach.
- Speak slowly and articulate clearly.
- NEVER interrupt the interviewer.
- Take notes.
- Ask for the interviewer’s contact information.
- Send a thank you note and follow-up!
By following these steps, you will be in great shape to successfully advance to the final round of interviews for that dream job or internship in your sights.
Good luck collegians and keep networking like legends!
What has your phone interview experience been like? Do you have any tips we missed? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!