Phone Interview Tips

– Learn what you need to interview and get the offer

Preparing for the Phone Interview

Most candidates fail to give a strong effort in preparing for an interview.  If prepared, the candidate will separate from the pool of applicants.

What to do

Visit the web site of the firm interviewing
Learn everything about the company; what products/services they sell, what vertical buys from this company, and what the advantages are. Who is their competition?  Are they positioned to be formidable? is a great resource for researching.

Find out who the competition is
A motivated candidate will learn who the competition is and call them to inquire about their thoughts of the company with which the candidate is about to interview.  A call to the Product Manager, VP of Communications, VP of Sales, or a salesperson will give valuable information about that company.  This effort will impress the heck out of the interviewer.

Call on a user of the company you are interviewing with
Candidates should take the initiative to call on a user or a prospective customer to find how this company is viewed. If the company supplies a product or service to a hospital, a candidate could easily call that facility and inquire as to who they use and gather information.

A conversation should be easy, “Hello, my name is ___________ and I am in the process of interviewing for a position with XYZ Company. I would like to learn as much as possible about the company and its products. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions? It would be greatly appreciated, thank you.”

Results and what the interviewer should conclude: You are doing thorough research and are an effective cold-caller
Being able to know how this company’s products and/or services are received will greatly impress the interviewer. It shows you are doing your research to see if you would be comfortable selling that particular product, but it also shows the interviewer you are not afraid to cold-call companies, gather information and learn key elements.
A solid statement to add, “ I think that should demonstrate I have no problem picking up a phone and calling companies cold, learn their critical problems and seeing where one can offer solutions.”

Adding what you learned from your research and preparation
Summarize your research by stating, “To keep customers for a long time you need to ask important questions in order to gain answers and offer solutions.  The only way to know how your customers see your business is to look at it through their eyes.”  

Interviewing Over the Phone:

Some employers may want to conduct an initial screening interview with you by phone. All phone interviews must be taken seriously.  It is not just a phone screen, but the first formal contact with the employer.  Even initially, one is speaking with an HR person or their corporate recruiter, so treat all as a senior level officer of the company.  Their feedback will be critical to gain the next step in the process.  If the company calls without notice, it would be wise not to engage in formal dialogue until you are ready.  Please request to set up an interview appointment at a mutually convenient time.  To show your eagerness in the opportunity, the interview should be set up within the same week the employer contacts you. Once a time has been set, make sure you do not miss the phone call. Most phone interviews last anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes.


Things you need to do

  • Stand up during the telephone interview. A person that stands while talking exudes more energy and comes across more assertive
  • Write “SMILE” in large letters on a note pad. It is very important to smile while you speak. This will give the interviewer the feeling that your attitude is healthy and you are a positive individual
  • Have your resume in front of you and make notes of accomplishments in each position held, i.e., something that you are very proud of; exceeding quota, a specific sale where you can explain the entire sales cycle, a promotion, etc.
  • Be more inclined to listen. At times there might be an uncomfortable silence on the call and since you cannot see the interviewer you do not know if they are writing things down, collecting their thoughts or in a pensive mood. Some candidates will think they need to talk. Be careful. If there is silence, you may want to ask politely if they have more questions and wait for a response.  In a recent survey by an independent outplacement firm, the number one problem interviewers had with their candidates when they declined to advance the candidate to the next stage after a telephone screening was when the “candidate seem to talk too much and was not a very good listener.”
  • Use powerful statements during the talk, i.e., goal-setting, highly competitive person, etc.


Prepare For the Phone Screen

You should be prepared to discuss your qualifications, experience, skills, abilities and education as you would during a face to face interview. Prepare ahead of time and outline the points you want to make on paper to make sure you cover all the necessary information. Remember, the employer cannot see you, so it is appropriate to have a written outline in front of you to assist you in answering questions.  Some items that should be discussed:

  • Why are you looking? (Be as positive as you can be about previous/current positions andemployers)
  • What do you know about the position? (Good research will show the employer you are a good fit)
  • Explain in detail what past positions would make you a good candidate for this position.
  • Review your resume objectively and prepare for any red flag questions (job hopping, lack of industry knowledge, etc.)

Be Aggressive With the Next Step After the Phone Interview

Before the conversation ends, politely make sure they have your correct phone number, address and email.  Ask for the interviewer’s email address.  If they hesitate, kindly say you would like to send a follow-up thank you and then reiterate why you would be a good fit. Then, ask again for their email address.

You are pushing to see how viable your candidacy is, but in a polite way, demonstrating you are very interested in the position.


Follow up once you receive their e-mail address

In the email, you should state:

  • Your interest in the position
  • Reasons why you are a good match for their company
  • Also, include an article that you found on the Internet about their industry or their business.
  • Some recommendations:

              -Google and Vault are useful tools for gaining information

              -Look for a company officer that was recently quoted in a journal or                    magazine                     

              -Look for an article that may, in general, talk about the industry     

              -Look for an article about their competition

Include the article, and make a few comments, concluding you will follow-up in a few days to inquire about the next step. The follow-up enforces the thought that you gave the Best Interview Period! ?




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