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Published on September 17, 2018

17 Ways to Ace Your Next Phone Interview And Land the Job You Deserve

17 Ways to Ace Your Next Phone Interview And Land the Job You Deserve

There is one thing standing in the way of you and the job of your dreams: a phone interview. The screening interview is an opportunity for companies to narrow the list of presumably qualified applicants and determine who merits a closer look.

So many candidates exclude themselves from the phone interview by being unprepared or by failing to take this screening session seriously. A phone interview should not block you from living the life you have always imagined.

Here are 17 tips to help you ace your next one:

1. Clear the deck.

If you are reading this blog, you are likely busier than you would prefer or even imagine. Even when you schedule or accept phone interviews, they are likely sandwiched between meetings.

To show up fully present, energized and engaged, I recommend you clear the deck and give yourself at least an hour of uninterrupted time before and 30 minutes following the interview.

You can use the time to mentally prepare, develop a list of questions, rehearse answers to likely questions and ensure you are comfortable and ready for the interview.

2. Look the part.

It is no secret that we perform better when we look and feel the part. If you have a phone interview, dress up for the interview, if dressing up is comfortable and allows you to put your best foot forward.

Even though you will likely do the interview from home or a private location, be sure you are dressed professionally. This will allow you to be fully engaged and present.

In the event, the interviewer asks to connect with you via Zoom, Google Hangout or Skype, you will be prepared.

3. Resend your resume and cover letter prior to the call.

As a courtesy, resend your resume and cover letter prior to your screening interview. You never know if the person interviewing you has had a busy day or if a schedule change forced him or her to work from home rather than the office where the individual has access to their files.

There have been many times in my career where a last-minute change or a mix-up with support staff has left me scrambling at the last minute to find a candidate’s resume. It is quite embarrassing to misplace a resume and ask the interviewee to resubmit it.

You can save the interviewer the trouble and earn extra points by resending both documents in advance of your call. A simple message will suffice, such as “I am looking forward to speaking with you in an hour, and I am resending my resume to ensure it is at the top of your inbox.”

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4. Research the interviewer.

Once your interview is scheduled, be sure to research the person facilitating it.

You will want to Google the person and check their social media accounts. When you research the interviewer, try to get a sense of the individual’s personal and professional interests.

Once you identify those interests, acknowledge them in the interview, but do not dwell on them, because you do not want to make the interviewer uncomfortable. Follow his or her lead. If the interviewer indulges your questions or comments, by all means, continue the conversation.

I am always impressed when someone I am meeting with takes the opportunity to learn something about me ahead of time. This projects interest, which is important in my line of work.

5. Research the company.

In addition to researching the interviewer, be sure to research the company.

Ask people in your network if they know anyone who works or has worked for the organization in question. Conduct a Google search on the company, and be mindful to look beyond the first page of the search query.

If there are yelp reviews on the company, be careful to review those and look for trends as well as how recent the reviews were posted. While more recent reviews are obviously cause for pause, older reviews – depending on their nature – could be problematic as well.

6. Check the staff listing or “About Us” section of the company’s website.

Part of your research into a company is assessing whether you know staff or board members who are connected with the company.

Most organizations list their staff or board members in the “About Us” or “Our Team” section of the website. Prior to a phone interview, check these sections to determine whether you know someone who works for the company. If you do, reach out to that person to request a phone interview to learn more about the company.

7. Remember interviewing is a two-way street.

As much as the company representative wants to learn about you as the interviewee, you will want to learn about the organization.

Try to ferret out information on the company, the job for which you are applying as well as the manager to whom you would report. You will also want to ask questions to assess the interview process.

Additionally, because culture is important and will permit or slow your ability to do your job, ask questions to assess company culture, such as “What do your employees say they like most about working for your organization?” “What do employees say they like least?” “What do you do to create and maintain a healthy workplace culture?”

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8. Develop questions prior to the interview.

Prior to your interview, develop a list of questions about the company, the position for which you are applying, growth opportunities in the company, the ideal candidate for the position, and so forth. This will save you the trouble of thinking of questions on the spot during the interview.

I have found that once I become nervous, it is a lot harder to come up with questions on the spot, and interviews can be anxiety-producing without preparation.

9. Stand during the interview.

I train leaders and, incidentally, graduate students to become spokespersons.

I recommend that they stand during media interviews. I find that it helps the person speaking to project better, and it reduces the urge to get too comfortable in an interview setting and say something that could be too informal.

Similarly, I recommend interviewees stand for at least a portion of their phone interview.

10. Allow the interviewer to talk.

While it is essential you ask questions during an interview, you should not dominate the conversation.

Most people love talking about themselves and the company they represent, and it is your job as the interviewee to walk a fine line between allowing the interviewer to talk and interspersing questions when and where appropriate.

I am not suggesting you remain silent – you want the interviewer to learn about you; but you should ensure that the interviewer has ample opportunity to do what most people do best: talk about themselves and their work.

11. Refrain from multitasking.

We all live hurried lives, and most of us have to-do lists that are impossible to complete.

When we have multiple due dates and obligations, it is typical to want to avail oneself of every seemingly free moment of time.

When conducting or participating in a phone interview, be as present as possible. This means refraining from multitasking, which could mean responding to emails, text messages or social media messages. It could mean researching the company during the interview.

Whatever multitasking means for you, simply do not do it, especially during a screening interview.

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12. Conduct the phone interview in a place where there is minimal noise.

A common thread throughout this post has been that most of us live busy lives. So, it is natural to be on the go.

If you have the luxury of conducting a phone interview from home or a private office where there is minimal noise, do so. You may also rent a co-working space or ask a friend if you can borrow his or her office.

Whatever you do, select a place where there is minimal noise and distraction. The person interviewing you should not have to strain to hear what you are saying or compete with ambient noises.

When I am interviewing a candidate and competing with background noise, I grow frustrated and my focus can shift from getting to know the person to silencing the noise. Do not force your interviewer to choose.

13. Be punctual.

Do not leave the interviewer waiting. This is both rude and unprofessional, and it may count against you.

If you are able to follow my earlier advice and not schedule meetings within an hour of your phone interview, you should have no time being prompt for your discussion.

If you foresee that you will be late, be sure to give the interviewer a heads-up at least 15-20 minutes prior to the start of the call.

14. Focus on how you can and will help.

Let’s face it: people are naturally self-interested.

When you walk into an interview focused on what you can bring and how you can solve a hiring manager’s problems, you will set yourself and your candidacy apart.

Think about the challenges you could potentially solve and then share how your joining the team will benefit the company, not just you.

15. Take the interview seriously.

Do not assume you will have an opportunity to meet face to face with company representatives. Do not discount the weight that may be placed on phone interviews.

I once applied for a position on the East Coast while living on the West Coast. While my first interview was face to face, my interview with one senior leader was over the phone. I walked into the interview thinking it would be less intense than it was.

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From the moment the leader got on the phone with me, I was on my toes. I had to quickly recalibrate to handle the intensity of the questions lobbed on me.

To this day, more than six years later, that phone interview remains one of the most difficult interviews I have ever had. Fortunately for me, I was offered the job, but the experience still stands out as a learning lesson.

16. Send a thank-you note.

Kindness is underrated. We live in a society where most people are overscheduled and overbooked.

When faced with intense pressure, it can be easy to underestimate the role of kindness. But when someone shares a portion of the day with you by granting you an interview, you owe it to that individual and to yourself to send a thank-you note following the interview.

The note can be via email, a standard letter or a card. So few people do this that those who do stand out.

Become an individual who remembers this gesture of kindness and professional courtesy.

17. Be positive.

Energy really is contagious. If you don’t believe me, consider locking yourself in a room for one hour with people are upset. By the time you leave the room, you will be upset right along with them. It is natural to mirror the other person even if you do not realize you are doing it.

During your next phone interview, mirror positivity, both about the position, the company and most importantly, your skill sets. The interviewer will pick up on your energy and positivity and that will reflect favorably.

I cannot tell you how many times I have interviewed candidates who communicated no excitement or enthusiasm. Getting through the interview was difficult, not to mention, I kept thinking about what it would be like to work with the person daily.

Being positive not only helps you feel better, it helps the person interviewing you as well.

If you have read this list and want to add other tips, please tweet the link to this article and include the point you believe I missed. Use the hashtag #AceIt when you reach out.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Jennifer R. Farmer

An author and public relations expert specializes in helping socially-conscious entrepreneurs, celebrities and activists

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Last Updated on May 20, 2019

How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

Time.

When you think of this construct, where do you see your time being spent?

As William Shakespeare famously wrote “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me…”

Have you used your time wisely? Are you where you want to be?

Or do you have unfinished goals to attain… places you want to be, things you still need to do?

The hard truth is, that time once passed cannot be replaced–which is why it is common to hear people say that one should not squander time doing nothing, or delay certain decisions for later. More often than not, the biggest blocker from reaching our goals is often inaction – which is essentially doing nothing, rather than doing something. 

There are many reasons why we may not do something. Most often it boils down to adequate time. We may feel we don’t have enough time, or that it’s never quite the right time to pursue our goals.

Maybe next month, or maybe next year…

And, before you know it, the time has passed and you’re still no where near achieving those goals you dream about. This inaction often leads to strong regret once we look at the situation through hindsight. So, take some time now to reflect on any goal(s) you may have in mind, or hidden at the back of your mind; and, think about how you can truly start working on them now, and not later.

So, how do you start?

Figure Out Your Purpose (Your Main Goal)


The first important step is to figure out your purpose, or your main goal.

What is it that you’re after in life? And, are there any barriers preventing you from reaching your goal? These are good questions to ask when it comes to figuring out how (and for what purpose) you are spending your time.

Your purpose will guide you, and it will ensure your time spent is within the bounds of what you actually want to accomplish.

A good amount of research has been done on how we as humans develop and embrace long-term and highly meaningful goals in our lives. So much so, that having a purpose has connections to reduced stroke, and heart attack. It turns out, our desire to accomplish goals actually has an evolutionary connection–especially goals with a greater purpose to them. This is because a greater purpose often helps both the individual, and our species as a whole, survive.

Knowing why it is you’re doing something is important; and, when you do, it will be easier to budget your time and effort into pursuing after those milestones or tasks that will lead to the accomplishment of your main goal.

Assess Your Current Time Spent

Next comes the actual time usage. Once you know what your main goal is, you’ll want to make the most of the time you have now. It’s good to know how you’re currently spending your time, so that you can start making improvements and easily assess what can stay and what can go in your day to day routine.

For just one day, ideally on a day when you’d like to be more productive, I encourage you to record a time journal, down to the quarter hour if you can manage. You may be quite surprised at how little things—such as checking social media, answering emails that could wait, or idling at the water cooler or office pantry —can add up to a lot of wasted time.

To get you started, I recommend you check out this quick self assessment to assess your current productivity: Want To Know How Much You’re Getting Done In A Day?

Tricks to Tackle Distractions

Once you’ve assessed how you’re currently spending your time, I hope you won’t be in for too big of a shock when you see just how big of an impact distractions and time wasters are in your life.

Every time your mind wanders from your work, it takes an average of 25 minutes and 26 seconds to get into focus again. That’s almost half an hour of precious time every time you entertain a distraction!

Which is why it’s important to learn how to focus, and tackle distractions effectively. Here’s how to do it:

1. Set Time Aside for Focusing

One way to stay focused is to set focused sessions for yourself. During a focused session, you should let people know that you won’t be responding unless it’s a real emergency.

Set your messaging apps and shared calendars as “busy” to reduce interruptions. Think of these sessions as one on one time with yourself so that you can truly focus on what’s important, without external distractions coming your way.

2. Beware of Emails

Emails may sound harmless, but they can come into our inbox continuously throughout the day, and it’s tempting to respond to them as we receive them. Especially if you’re one to check your notifications frequently.

Instead of checking them every time a new notification sounds, set a specific time to deal with your emails at one go. This will no doubt increase your productivity as you’re dealing with emails one after the other, rather than interrupting your focus on another project each time an email comes in.

Besides switching off your email notifications so as not to get distracted, you could also install a Chrome extension called Block Site that helps to stop Gmail notifications coming through at specific times, making it easier for you to manage these subtle daily distractions.

3. Let Technology Help

As much as we are getting increasingly distracted because of technology, we can’t deny it’s many advantages. So instead of feeling controlled by technology, why not make use of disabling options that the devices offer?

Turn off email alerts, app notifications, or set your phone to go straight to voicemail and even create auto-responses to incoming text messages. There are also apps like Forrest that help to increase your productivity by rewarding you each time you focus well, which encourages you to ignore your phone.

4. Schedule Time to Get Distracted

Just as important as scheduling focus time, is scheduling break times. Balance is always key, so when you start scheduling focused sessions, you should also intentionally pen down some break time slots for your mind to relax.

This is because the brain isn’t created to sustain long periods of focus and concentration. The average attention span for an adult is between 15 and 40 minutes. After this time, your likelihood of distractions get stronger and you’ll become less motivated.

So while taking a mental break might seem unproductive, in the long run it makes your brain work more efficiently, and you’ll end up getting more work done overall.

Time is in Your Hands

At the end of the day, we all have a certain amount of time to go all out to pursue our heart’s desires. Whatever your goals are, the time you have now, is in your hands to make them come true.

You simply need to start somewhere, instead of allowing inaction waste your time away, leaving you with regret later on. With a main goal or purpose in mind, you can be on the right track to attaining your desired outcomes.

Being aware of how you spend your time and learning how to tackle common distractions can help boost you forward in completing what’s necessary to reach your most desired goals.

So what are you waiting for? 

Featured photo credit: Aron Visuals via unsplash.com

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