Preparing For Phone Interviews And What To Keep In Mind

Who said preparing for a phone interview is akin to trekking up Everest in flip-flops? Okay, maybe no one, but the beads of sweat forming at the thought aren’t imaginary. Phone interviews sneak up like pop quizzes in your least favorite subject, minus the ability to read the room.

This post promises to be your cheat sheet, ensuring your next phone interview feels less like a guessing game and more like a conversation you’re leading.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Dive into company research and align your conversation toward their values for a compelling narrative.
  • Use your voice tone, pace, and posture to create a positive and professional first impression over the phone.
  • After the interview, send a personalized thank-you email within 24 hours to reinforce your interest and highlight your fit for the role.

What Should You Do Before the Call?

Before the phone rings, your prep work can set the stage for a standout performance. Here’s how to prime yourself for success:

  • Research the Company : Dive deep into the company’s history, culture, and recent achievements. A quick visit to their website, LinkedIn page, and recent news articles can reveal insights that align your conversation towards the company’s values and goals. For instance, noting a recent sustainability initiative could be a talking point if you’re interviewing for a role related to environmental policy.

  • Understand the Job Role : Decode the job description like it’s gold. Identify the skills and experiences the employer is seeking, and prepare to draw parallels with your own experiences. Crafting a narrative that connects your background directly to the job’s requirements is key.

  • Professional Tone Set-Up : This isn’t just about what you say but where and how you say it. Choose a quiet, comfortable space to take the call, ensuring there’s no background noise. A pro tip? Stick a note on your door to avoid interruptions.

  • Outline Your Experiences : Have a cheat sheet. This should include bullet points of your career achievements, strengths, and how they align with the job role. It’s not just about listing your experiences, but framing them in a way that paints you as the perfect candidate.

How Can You Make a Great First Impression Over the Phone?

They can’t see you, but they can feel your enthusiasm and professionalism through these strategies:

  • Tone of Voice : Your voice is your handshake. Keep your tone positive, confident, and professional. Modulating your voice to match the conversation’s ebb and flow can engage your interviewer more effectively.

  • Pace Yourself : Don’t rush. Speaking too quickly can muddle your words. A measured pace communicates confidence and allows your messages to land with more impact.

  • Smile : Yes, they can hear it! Smiling naturally lifts your voice’s tone, infusing your words with warmth and enthusiasm. It’s a simple, yet powerful tool to make a positive impression.

  • Good Posture : Stand or sit up straight. Good posture isn’t just about ergonomics; it influences your vocal quality, making you sound more assertive and energetic. A quick trick is to stand during the call, which naturally enhances vocal projection.

What Questions Should You Prepare For?

Preparation is half the battle. Anticipate these common questions to stay one step ahead:

  1. “Tell me about yourself.” Craft a succinct, engaging narrative of your professional journey, focusing on experiences and achievements directly relevant to the job.

  2. “Why are you interested in this role?” Connect your motivations directly to the company’s mission or the specific opportunities the role presents. This is where your deep-dive research pays off.

  3. “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Choose strengths that align closely with the job’s requirements. When discussing weaknesses, focus on those you’ve made efforts to address. For example, if you’re applying for a job that requires meticulous attention to detail and you’ve struggled with this in the past, talk about the systems or tools you’ve implemented to mitigate this challenge.

  4. Behavioral Questions : Prepare for scenarios like, “Describe a challenge you faced at work and how you overcame it.” Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses, demonstrating your problem-solving capabilities and resilience.

  5. “Do you have any questions for us?” This is where you can truly stand out. Ask insightful questions that not only show you’ve done your homework but also that you’re already thinking about how you can contribute to the team. For instance, “I noticed the company aims to expand into the Asian market by next year. How does this role contribute to achieving that goal?”

Remember, every phone interview is a unique conversation. While you can’t predict every turn, being well-prepared allows you to navigate the discussion confidently and leave a lasting positive impression.

Sure, let’s dive into making your phone interview process smooth and impactful, especially around the delicate topics of salary discussions and post-interview etiquette.

How Should You Handle Questions About Salary?

Discussing salary early on can be as tricky as a tightrope walk. You want to express your interest in the role and company, not just the paycheck. Here’s how you can navigate this with finesse:

  • Wait for the Right Moment: Ideally, salary discussions should come up after the interviewer is convinced of your value. If the topic arises prematurely, try steering the conversation back to your skills and how well you fit the role. A polite way to deflect could be, “I’m really passionate about the responsibilities of this role. Could we discuss salary expectations a bit later in the process?”

  • Do Your Homework: Before the conversation even starts, research typical salary ranges for the position in question. Websites like Glassdoor, PayScale, or LinkedIn Salary can provide valuable insights. This preparation ensures you have a realistic expectation and can negotiate confidently when the time comes.

  • Provide a Range, Not a Number: If pressed for salary expectations, offer a range based on your research and professional worth rather than a specific figure. This not only shows you’re informed but also leaves room for negotiation.

  • Unique Insight: One strategy seldom mentioned is utilizing the power of cost-of-living calculators if you’re applying for a position in a different geographic area. Mentioning, “I’ve looked into the cost-of-living differences and, considering this, I believe a range of X to Y would be fair,” demonstrates thoughtfulness and thorough preparation.

Remember, the goal is to come across as flexible and open to dialogue, rather than boxing yourself into a corner.

What Follow-Up Steps Should You Take After the Interview?

The steps you take after your phone interview can significantly influence the hiring decision. Here’s how to ensure your post-interview actions make a lasting, positive impact:

Send a Thank-You Email

Perhaps the most important step, and yet many overlook it or don’t leverage its potential fully. Here’s a guide to nail it:

  • Timing is Key: Aim to send your thank-you email within 24 hours of your interview. This keeps you fresh in the interviewer’s mind and shows diligence.

  • Personalize: Reference specific parts of the conversation you had. For example, “I enjoyed discussing how we could leverage new technologies in the marketing strategy. It got me thinking…” This shows attentiveness and genuine interest.

  • Keep It Concise: Your email should be a brief nod to the conversation, not a novel. Three paragraphs are a good rule of thumb — an opener, a body (where you can sneak in another elevator pitch or reinforce an idea you discussed), and a closing note.

  • Express Enthusiasm: Clearly state your excitement about the role and the possibility of being part of the team. However, maintain a balance — you want to come across as eager, not desperate.

  • Subject Line: Don’t overlook the power of a compelling subject line. “Thank you for the insightful conversation” or “Reflecting on our interview and next steps” are both clear and professional.

Following up after an interview not only reinforces your interest in the role but also gives you an opportunity to once again highlight why you’re the right fit. It’s an extra touch point that can distinguish you from other candidates and demonstrate your professionalism.

Taking these steps will not only help you tackle the phone interview process with more confidence but also leave a lasting impression on your potential employers. Remember, it’s all about preparation, being genuine, and showcasing your value — salary discussion and post-interview etiquette included. Good luck!

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!