10 Phone Interview Tips to Land the Job Even Without Your Winning Smile

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Everyone gets a little jittery when they hear the word “interview.” Whether it gives you sweaty palms, shaking knees or the inability to speak, we can guarantee you’re not the only one. Across the board, interviews intimidate college students. When you throw phone interviews into the mix, we all readily admit we find ourselves at a complete loss. While we love the foundation that previous generations have set for us, phone interviews have evolved into an entire new field that they cannot really help us with. How do you start up that phone call and maintain a healthy dose of confidence?

Here’s a list of 10 phone interview tips from a few career centers in universities across the country.

1. Dress Up

Yes, the temptation to wear your pajamas during the phone interview sounds inviting. After all, the only one who would know is you. No damage done, right? Wrong. Staying in your PJs won’t give you that extra confidence boost that you need to rock the interview. You still need to dress up. “As far as clothing goes, put something on that makes you feel confident in the phone interview,” said an employee at Clemson State University’s career center. You might not need to wear your pencil skirt or a suit, but choose to wear something that fills you with confidence and forces you to stay bold.

2. Know the Company Before You Apply

If you apply to work for them, you want to make sure you know just who the “them” refers to in this situation. A phone interview means you can have whatever research you do right in front of you to reference quickly without them seeing. Knowing as much information as possible about the company you interview for will not only flatter them, but also show that you know your stuff. Spend time doing your research and find out what makes your potential employers click together as a company. You will stand-out among your competition when you know the stats.

3. Know the Requirements

In an interview, you need to know if you fit the slot the company wants to fill. Prepare by researching what they want in an employee, what skills you carry to meet those needs and if they live up to the company’s expectations. If not, don’t waste any time on the phone. Neither party will benefit from a phone call with no intention of you taking the job. Just keep your head high and move on to the next possibility.

4. Choose Your Location

When preparing for your interview, find a location that gives you a sense of calmness and, even more importantly, stays quiet. You could choose to find a room in your career center or inside the library. Sometimes though, your dorm may have to suffice. If you find this is the case, make sure your roomie realizes and respects the fact that you need them to stay quiet for the duration of the call. When you choose a location, make yourself go there early to get comfortable in that spot. “Wherever you’re going to do a phone interview, go to the location and do a run-through to practice,” said Florida State University career center employee Tracy Dowling.

5. Keep Your Notes With You

Take some time before the phone call to write down an outline of potential questions and your potential answers. Keeping notes with you at all times arguably gives you a huge advantage over in-person interviews. “[During phone interviews,] you can have all of your answers. You can have cheat sheets,” said Dowling. Take advantage of this by placing a spread of your personal information in front of you before you settle in and pick up the phone.

6. Stay Focused

As millennials, we tend to have a short attention span. When we start feeling nervous, it seems that attention span shrinks even more and exhibits itself in the form of our generation transforming into nonstop chatter-boxes. With no one physically there to see you scrolling through social media, the temptation might take over. Make sure nothing in your call space will distract you or cause stress during the call. Take a few deep breaths, answer that phone and keep your notes close. This trick will help you respond in a timely manner, instead of sitting there uttering while racking your brain for the perfect response.

7. Speak Confidently

During a phone interview, your facial expression, body language and put-together appearance get cut out of the equation for impressing your potential employer. The success of the interview relies very heavily on your voice to (quite literally) do all the talking for your other characteristics. Therefore, make sure your tone radiates confidence, organization and your great personality. “You can literally hear a smile. Try it,” said Dowling.

8. Verbally Showcase Yourself

To build off the above point, don’t feel afraid to brag on yourself a bit. If you fit the requirements, tell them how so; use your personal experiences to showcase your skills. Let them see the reason behind why you believe you fit the position they need filled and how you can contribute to the company. “…if you have the skills needed, be prepared to sell yourself…maybe [you] have certain strengths that they really need, so talk about them,” said Clemson’s career center.

9. Prepare for Follow-Up Interviews

Phone interviews often start up the process; the company will likely not just hire you after one short phone call. Rather, if you succeed at acing that phone call, you may have a follow-up, second call or even an in-person interview. You need to stay on your toes and keep preparing for if and when that moment arrives.

10. Be YOU

The reason you decided to schedule this call is because the company wants to talk to you, so let them. “Be authentic to yourself; you don’t need to be someone that you’re not,” said Dowling. By showing off your great personality, you give your potential employer the best opportunity to see the real you. Stay professional, respectful and answer the questions honestly, but don’t forget to allow your personality to shine through during the entirety of the interview.

A Sophomore at Florida State University. Currently majoring in Communications/Media Studies with hopes of pursuing a job where I am paid for asking people lots of questions and writing down their life stories.

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