Phone interviews are increasingly becoming the first step towards an in-person interview in any job search. These interviews can range from screening calls where they verify specific qualifications and information about you, or they can be more in-depth and include longer conversations about the job and what you can bring to it.
Furthermore, phone interviews are being used in place of traditional in-person job interviews when companies are hiring workers in remote locations, to work from home, or who are moving to a new city but haven't moved just yet.
No matter your reason for being invited to a phone interview, congratulations! Now it's time to prepare yourself to ace the phone interview. Here are the:
Try to learn in advance who you're speaking with, and do some research on LinkedIn to find out more about them. Also, research the company to learn about any recent announcements, projects, or new ventures, the history of the company, and the company's culture.
Choose a quiet space away from anyone or anything that might distract you. The best option is a room with a door (so you can close it). Sit at a desk, but give yourself room to pace around, in case you have some nervous energy to get rid of. Also, consider the potential noises and distractions outside of your home - is there any construction going on? A school playground with lots of happy, loud children? Try to get as far away from distraction and noise as possible.
This one is usually up to the employer's availability, but if you're given an option for when to have a phone interview, be sure to choose a time when your house is generally quiet and empty. If you want to go even further, choose a time of the day when you are at your best - most of us know whether or not we can handle an early-morning job interview!
Just like an in-person job interview, you'll want only the essentials with you during a phone interview: a pad and pen, a copy of your resume, a copy of the job description, a list of questions to ask the employer, some researched notes about the company, and a copy of your references (to either give them over the phone, or to email them afterward). If you have a computer nearby, bring up the company's page and your interviewer's LinkedIn profile, and keep everything else off - no instant messenger programs, no games, no distractions!
The way you communicate during a phone interview is very important, because it's so different than an in-person interview. Gone are all of the body queues - smiling, posture, eye contact - that help you through. Be sure to choose a reliable phone - a landline is best because there is no chance of a dropped call. When you speak, try smiling as you talk because your voice will change into a more upbeat tone. Don't keep speaking to fill the dead air, and when you're done with an answer, ask the interviewer, "did that answer your question?" to make sure you've covered it.
Phone interviews are a unique experience and should be treated as such. Prepare your who, where, when, what, and how, and you'll be sure to make a great impression.
Brie Weiler Reynolds is the Director of Content and Social Media at FlexJobs, the leading site for telecommuting and flexible job listings. Brie writes about job searching, career advice, and telecommuting and flexible work trends on the FlexJobs Blog, and she interacts with FlexJobs' job seekers through social media.
If you want to read more on this topic, here are additional resources on how to prepare for a phone interview: