Andy Grove – “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive”
Look at that guy above. You don’t want to be that guy. The chances are that if you’ve ever been involved in an interview process, it started with a phone interview. Most do and quite rightly so.
But recently I spoke to an exceptional Software Engineer who failed a basic telephone interview. Why? She admitted that she had become complacent; after so many phone interviews she thought she knew how to nail it.
Below are my top tips for a phone interview. Some may be glaringly obvious but, as the military say, piss poor planning promotes piss poor performance.
- DRESS FOR THE OCCASION – I’m not going into the psychology of it, but you will feel and act more professional if you are dressed smartly. Don’t do a phone interview in your underwear, have a sense of occasion.
- ZONE LOCKDOWN – Prepare your surroundings. Make sure your phone is fully charged with a good connection, the room is quiet, you won’t be interrupted and have a glass of water handy in case of any tickly coughs.
- FAIL TO PREPARE, PREPARE TO FAIL – You should do the same amount of preparation for a phone interview as a face-to-face interview. Research the company; news articles, values, the product. Find out who will be interviewing you and look them up on LinkedIn. Have a copy of your CV and the job description to hand as well as a pad with some questions you would like to ask.
- LEAD BY EXAMPLE – Look at every point of the job description (mainly the bullet points under Responsibilities and Requirements) and think of an example of where you can show this from your career (the more recent the better). If you haven’t covered something, think of something similar. If you have nothing similar, be prepared to be honest about the training you will need.
- AWKWARD QUESTIONS – Make sure you can answer confidently and concisely questions about your salary expectations, reasons why you want to leave your current company, your notice period, a non-compete clause, required benefits (e.g. disability, time off for child care) etc. Being self-assured and relaxed will avoid any awkwardness.
- HOLD THE WAFFLE – The key disadvantage of a phone interview is that you cannot see the person you’re talking to. Remember, pauses and silences are natural. Let them happen and don’t feel like you have to fill the gaps with pointless waffle.
- CASE CLOSED – At the end of the call, as with all interviews, ask the question “do you have any concerns about me?” This will go one of two ways. If yes, you can address those concerns with the aim to stamp out any reasons not to hire you. If no, then you’ve had a good interview. To finish, express that you feel the role is right for you, and you’re keen to join the company.
If you want further interview tips, feel free to drop me a line on +44(0)2079 282 525 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org