When you’re job hunting, the two least certain things are the job interview and the phone call (or email) that says, you’re hired. Everything else is rather predictable, but beware. For its sheer lack of drama, the preparation for the job interview, whether face to face or on the phone, is the most important. You have to ace it to convince your interviewer that you’re the person for the job.
So how do you prepare for the interview?
First off, let’s assume that it’s a phone interview since this is probably the first high hurdle you’ll need to clear on your way to employment. Most companies use the phone interview to screen candidates. The phone interview is the gatekeeper; it determines whether you get bumped to the next stage, the face-to-face interview, or not.
Unless you’re an obvious mismatch, the phone interview should last 20 to 30 minutes. If it lasts significantly less than that, your application probably is in trouble. So, be prepared. Here are some essentials, according to career-advice.monster.com:
- Approach the phone interview as if it were the face-to-face interview itself.
- Ready your resume and cover letter and have them on hand for the phone interview.
- Prepare bulleted notes (don’t forget to emphasize your strengths in your notes).
- Make sure your phone is working properly and its audio quality is excellent (you don’t want to irritate your interviewer by asking him to repeat his question).
- Freshen up and dress appropriately (it’s for the psychology of the moment—the interviewer won’t see you, of course).
- Stand up (people literally think better on their feet).
Don’t make the mistake of assuming even for a moment that the phone interview, because you’re at home and your interviewer isn’t in front of you, is less important or less formal or less serious than the face-to-face interview. It would be a mistake that could quickly short-circuit your application.
As you would for the face-to-face interview, research all the important things to know about the company, memorize the key deliverables given in the job description, and rehearse your responses based on those deliverables.
Bear in mind that the phone interview is the face-to-face interview, minus the video. In many ways it’s a dress rehearsal, so you have to dress for the part. By dressing up, you’re putting yourself in the correct frame of mind. Lounging in bed with your pajamas on during the phone interview could make your demeanor too casual and it will show.