Written by Genevieve Carlton
How should you prepare for a phone interview? What are the most common phone interview questions? And how can you stand out during a phone interview? Our phone interview tips walk you through the steps to take before, during, and after a phone interview to help you move on to the next stage of the interview process.
Why do companies have phone interviews?
Companies often use phone interviews to screen applicants and decide which candidates to meet in person. Phone interviews save the time and expense of arranging in-person interviews as the first step in a job search.
During a phone interview, companies want to learn about the applicants' experience, qualifications, and if he/she is a good fit for the position. Candidates who make a strong impression land a second interview.
1) What to expect during a phone interview?
Most companies use phone interviews to screen applicants in the early stages of the interview process. As a result, candidates should prepare to answer questions about their work history and all the duties they have performed in their previous jobs. Interviewers might also ask about the candidate's career goals and knowledge of the company.
Salary might come up during a phone interview, particularly when speaking with a recruiter. The interviewer may ask about salary expectations or provide the salary range for the role. Phone interviews might last as little as 15 minutes to as long as an hour.
Common phone interview questions
2) Start prepping as early as possible
It's important to start preparing for a phone interview as early as possible. When scheduling the interview, consider blocking off time to prepare. Use that time to learn more about the company, practice your answers to common phone interview questions, and prepare questions for the interviewer.
3) Get the details down
You've scheduled a phone interview for 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. But what time zone? Is it a true phone interview or a video call? Who should place the call, you or the interviewer? Make sure you know the details or reach out to the company for clarification. While getting the details down, make sure they have both your phone number and email. If the call is on Zoom, make sure you have the link and test it 10 minutes before your call.
4) Research the company
During the phone interview, you'll want to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position. Researching the company — and determining why you want to work for them — will go a long way toward landing a second interview. Learn about the company, its values, and its goals. Reach out to anyone in your network who's worked for the company to get an insider perspective.
5) Make an accomplishments cheat sheet
The interviewer will want to know why they should hire you. Make a cheat sheet of your experiences, skills, and accomplishments. Read the job posting again and write down specific qualifications that the employer is looking for. Make sure you talk about these qualifications in your interview. Use the cheat sheet during the interview when they ask you to provide specific examples of your accomplishments.
6) Practice answering common questions
Many phone interviews start with an open-ended question like "tell me about yourself." Practice a concise, focused answer to that question and other common questions. Practice speaking about your strengths and your professional accomplishments. Planning these answers will help you relax and sound confident during the interview.
7) Plan out your salary answer
Salary expectations might come up during a phone interview. Research the salary range for the role in your area to avoid undervaluing yourself. In fact, you might want to ask about the salary range to make sure the company's pay matches what you're looking for. Plan out how to answer the salary question without selling yourself short. For example, you can avoid saying an exact number but give a range. Or, you can ask the interviewer what the company's salary range is and base your answer off of their range.
8) Prep three questions for the interviewer
Almost every interview ends with, "do you have any questions for me?" Use your prep time to come up with three questions for the interviewer. Asking questions shows your interest in the role and demonstrates that you've done your research. You can ask about the day-to-day responsibilities, the company culture, or the metrics for success in the role.