The majority of my interviews during my search for a summer internship were conducted over the phone as was to be expected since I was interviewing from Iowa for positions in Washington D.C. One practice phone interview with my dad showed just how much preparation I needed so I decided to make improving my interview skills a priority. While I still have plenty of room to grow, I have learned quite a bit from this experience and hope you find these tips helpful:
- Research the company.
This is a given for any interview because inevitably, you will be asked: “So how much do you know about our company?” and replying with “Nothing” is your first strike. You need to have a basic understanding of the organization’s mission and what it is that they do. This will show that you’ve done your homework, you’re willing to go the extra mile and that you’re genuinely interested in the organization. I also suggest having one or two questions ready to avoid any prolonged pauses. Even five seconds of silence can feel much longer on the phone than in person.
- Capitalize on the fact that your interviewer can’t see you.
I always had three items in front of me during my phone interviews: my resume, the organization’s website pulled up on my computer and a list of questions to ask at the end of the discussion. These resources aided my confidence throughout the interviews and made me feel prepared for anything.
- Treat it like an in-person interview.
In other words, dress professionally and sit at a desk. You’ll act more mature and assume a more professional mentality, which employers will sense through the phone. Phone interviews should be treated with as much importance and preparation as in-person interviews.
- Write answers to sample questions beforehand.
I get flustered during interviews and have trouble putting my thoughts together intelligently. By researching classic interview questions and crafting responses, I became comfortable with what I wanted to get across and how I wanted to present myself. This was one of the most beneficial practices that I did to improve my interview abilities.
- Be confident.
It is challenging to convey enthusiasm over the phone but I found that smiling helped. The simple act of smiling enhances your voice to sound more enthused, making the conversation more enjoyable for you and your interviewer. Talking about my accomplishments is not something that comes naturally to me but remember that that confidence is what employers are looking for. If they are taking the time to interview you, they are clearly interested in you so don’t be shy about your successes. Employers want to find the applicant that stands out the most and you won’t do that by playing the interview modestly.
What are some of your best tips for a phone interview? Leave your best practices below!
Ellen Converse is a senior studying PR and history at Drake University. She is the Vice President of Drake’s PRSSA chapter and this summer she is interning at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.