Phone interviews can come as a surprise. They're usually straightforward behavioral interviews, using standard interview questions. Phone interviews are also becoming very common forms of job interview. They're a quick way for employers to deal with applicants, and can avoid the time and expense of the conventional interview environment.
There are a few types of phone interviews:
- Standardized phone screening: These phone interviews are scripted at the employer's end. All interviewees are asked the same questions. These questions are standardized as a basic measure of applicants. The result of a phone interview is a pass or a fail.
- Multistage phone interviews: Some phone interviews are part of a multistage interview assessment. They can be quite informal, but remember they're still job interviews. You may find yourself speaking to a manager, who's trying to get an idea of your style and skills.
- Full phone interviews: These are the job interviews. They're becoming increasingly common in contract employment. Employers structure these interviews on what they need to know. These are the most difficult phone interviews, and should be prepared for in advance.
Phone interview techniques and tips
To set up for a phone interview is important:
- You need to be well organized, and free of interruptions. Arrange a time and a quiet space for the phone interview. Allow yourself enough time on both sides of the interview to prepare yourself properly and wind down afterwards.
- You can have your source materials and memory prompts with you. Make sure they're organized, and that you can find everything easily.
- Have a copy of your resume handy. That's most of the information the employer has about you, and it's likely to be the basis of some of the questions you're asked.
- Get comfortable. Take advantage of the fact that you're not sitting at a table surrounded by total strangers, and make yourself feel at home. Tension helps keep you awake, but it doesn't help you focus. The more comfortable you are, the easier it is to focus on the questions.
Preparation techniques for the phone interview
- Verbal skills: Phone interviews, naturally, make a lot of demands on your verbal communications skills. If you're not a verbal type of person, you may be at a disadvantage. It's worth your while to do some practice sessions, and get used to talking about the subjects with friends, to give yourself the chance to develop some fluency.
- Subject materials: The essential skills are the primary topics of a behavioral interview. Things like problem solving, working in a team, relationships in the workplace and work prioritization, are common topics. It's advisable to think about the essential skills, and consider what examples you want to give the employer. The examples must relate well to the job, and show the right levels of skill.
- Presentation: One of the disadvantages of the phone interview is you can't "present" as you would at a conventional interview. If your interview techniques are based on engaging with people face to face, you'll need to adapt to a verbal form of engagement.