11 Dos and Don’ts for Phone Interviews

BUILD MY RESUME

Many recruiters screen applicants with a phone interview. Learn how to master the recruiter call with these 11 crucial phone interview dos and don’ts.

In some ways, phone interviews can be even more intimidating than in-person interviews. Since you aren’t to see the recruiter to read his or her facial expressions and demeanor, it can be hard to judge how you are doing. For this reason, it is especially important to educate yourself on the top telephone interview dos and don’ts for the best chance of nailing the interview.

No matter how confident you may feel in the days or hours leading up to your phone screening, make sure you become familiar with the following 11 phone interview dos and don’ts. Committing them to memory will help you avoid common phone etiquette faux pas and ensure that you pass your interview with unparalleled professionalism.

1. DO keep your phone battery charged. The last thing you want to do is end up unintentionally dropping the call due to a dead cell phone battery. If you know when the call is going to take place, spend some time fully charging your battery beforehand. If you are not sure when to expect the call, carry a portable cell phone charger with you and never let your phone drop below 50% battery life.

Build My Resume2. DO let friends and family know you are expecting an important call. Let your friends and family know in advance that you are expecting a telephone interview and that you must not be disturbed when the call comes through. Additionally, give instructions for proper message taking if you happen to be in the shower or otherwise engaged when the call comes through.

3. DO go someplace quiet. If a recruiter calls you while you are in a noisy location, make sure you quickly move to a quiet area where you can concentrate and clearly hear the interviewer. Do not attempt to carry out the interview in an area with excessive background noise.

4. DO keep a pen and paper handy. You will most likely want to write down information during your interview, including the name and title of the person interviewing you, for future reference. Keep a pen and paper near your phone or in your car or purse so that you can access it quickly when needed.

5. DO speak clearly and slowly. Many people subconsciously talk more quickly when they are on the phone. To avoid sounding like a runaway train, make a conscious effort to speak more slowly and clearly without losing your enthusiastic tone.

6. DON’T make your outgoing voicemail message sound too casual or silly. Change your voicemail greeting to a more professional message when you are expecting a recruiter to call. Ideally, you will be available to answer the phone right when it rings, but if you miss it for any reason when the recruiter calls, you want to make sure he or she is greeted with a courteous and professional message.

7. DON’T try to talk through all of the silences. It is inevitable that you will encounter some moments of silence during your interview while the recruiter collects his or her thoughts. Don’t feel like you must fill these brief lulls in conversation. If the silence seems to drag on for too long, feel free to politely ask a question of your own.

8. DON’T eat, drink, or chew gum during your interview. Just because the interviewer can’t see you does not mean he or she can’t hear you over the phone. Your mouth should only be speaking during your interview, not full of food and drink.

9. DON’T interrupt the interviewer. Since you can’t see the recruiter during a phone interview, it can be difficult to anticipate when he or she is going to talk. In order to avoid accidentally interrupting him or her, try to avoid speaking unless you are asked a question or are invited to ask questions of your own.

10. DON’T bring up salary or benefits. The initial phone screen is absolutely not the time to inquire about a role’s salary or benefits. In rare cases, the interviewer may decide to raise the subject during the phone interview, but most will save salary negotiations for the first or second in-person interview.

11. DON’T allow yourself to sound bored. When you are being interviewed via telephone, it is even more important than usual to infuse your voice with interest and enthusiasm. Remember that the recruiter can’t see whether you are smiling or frowning, so do your best to put a “smile” in your voice. The best way to do this is by actually smiling during the interview, even if you feel silly doing so without an audience. Additionally, you should refrain from yawning or sounding otherwise disinterested in what the recruiter has to say.

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