As an IT staffing firm, part of our job is to prepare our candidates for interviews; so we thought it’d be a smart idea to begin a series of blog posts designed to do just that. So over the course of the next several months, our candidate focused blog posts will feature an ongoing series of interview prep posts designed to prepare candidates for the interview. First up, how to ace the phone interview.

As many, if not all, of you know, phone interviews are a common first step in the interview process. For some, however, these can create even more anxiety than in-person interviews. Below you’ll find tips and best practices on how to prepare, what to share, and how to shine over the phone!

Wear Business Attire – A good rule of thumb to remember for phone interviews is to dress as if you were going into work. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to break out your best interview suit, but you should be in business attire. According to a study published in Human Resource Development Quarterly titled, “The Impact of Workplace Attire on Employee Self-Perceptions,” participants reported feeling more authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when wearing formal business attire. This same principle should be applied to phone interviews.

Use a Landline – When possible, conduct your phone interviews over a landline. It’ll assure you stay connected and avoid dropped calls. If you don’t have access to a landline, however, as 52% of American adults reportedly don’t have, than be sure to take the call in an area where you’re assured to have good cell service. It’d be a good idea to also test out that area beforehand. Take a call from a friend or family member in that area and spend at least 10 minutes speaking with them to make sure your voice comes through crystal clear. Also, make sure your cell is fully charged! Dropped calls happen but ones that occur due to a dead phone aren’t as easily forgiven.

Find a Quiet Place – Do your best to create a comfortable environment for yourself and eliminate both distractions and background noise. This means shutting off your cell phone (if you’re taking the call on a landline), turning off the TV, and of course making sure the kids and pets are taken care of. A home office is best suited for this but if you don’t have access to one – or even a private study – a parked car can assure you some peace and quiet (especially if you’re already employed and taking the call during work hours).

Be Prepared – As with every interview, you need to do your homework and be prepared. Thoroughly research the company and be prepared to talk about what you know of them. If you’re unable to answer those questions the interview could be over quite quickly. It’s way easier to end an interview that takes place over the phone than one that’s done in-person. Of course, one of the perks about a phone interview is that you can keep your notes on the company – as well as any prepared questions you may have – on a notepad in front of you. You can think of this as your cheat sheet. This will help to eliminate any anxiety you may have about trying to remember all you know, and want to know, about the company and position.

Listen and React – During the interview, it’s important to let the interviewer set the stage. Don’t begin your answers until the interviewer has finished asking their questions, don’t interrupt or talk over them, and believe it or not, smile while you speak. You’re guaranteed to get your time, that’s the whole point of the interview, so let the conversation evolve naturally. It’s also a good idea to keep a glass of water by your side so as to help clear your throat before speaking.

Follow-up – Again, as with any interview, you should thank the interviewer for taking the time to speak with you about the opportunity. This can come in the form of an email and should confirm your interest in the company, ability to do the job, and desire to take the next steps. While many times overlooked, this brief note can go a long ways in assuring you receive a call back.

By following these tips, you can be rest assured that you’re placing yourself in the best possible position to succeed and receive a follow-up interview.

For even more interview tips from PSCI, read our blogs on what you must know before job interviews, how to stand out during an interview, and what to ask in an interview.

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