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8 Rules to Follow to Nail a Phone Interview

Many of us just finished up (or are just getting started, no judgments here!) thinking about summer internships, graduate school, or a career after graduation. You’ve sent in all your resumes and applications, and now the waiting game has been half-relaxing, half-nerve-wracking. Then, out of nowhere, you open up an email, and with your heart pounding you read some great news! After all of this stress, you get invited to an interview with an amazing place in your dream city! But wait, not the typical kind of face-to-face interview, a phone interview. What does that even mean? Are they going to call me or do I call them? Do I even wear pants?

Luckily, I just experienced one of these, and I’m here to tell you that it’s not all that bad. There are many good things to a phone interview – you don’t have to wear heels for one thing (or pants). But there are a few things to keep in mind that are different when it comes to preparation and what to do during the interview that you might not have learned about before. Keep these tips in mind, and you might be getting instant acceptances in no time!

1. Research, research, research

Know the answer to the question, “Why us?” right away without hesitation. You’ll be sure to impress your interviewer with all that you know about what they offer. Find out their top strengths, and how you could contribute to their specialties.

2. Remind the roomies

Let your roommates know you’ll need a window of time without distractions. Your little whiteboard posted on the fridge should say: “Today 12-3: my room off-limits!” If they’re good roommates, they’ll respect your space. This is something super important for your future, and they should be happy for you taking this opportunity!

3. Get that resume updated

The beauty of a phone interview is they cannot see you! You can have all the materials out and ready that you need! Sit at your laptop or desk with your up-to-date resume and some notes on your best qualities that you want to highlight about yourself. These will come in handy when they start asking the tough, hypothetical situation questions.

4. Get comfortable, but don’t get lazy

Make sure you situate yourself in a well-lit area (to avoid getting sleepy!) where you have a silent, relaxing atmosphere all around you. It may be a good idea to wear something that you love, such as your favorite sweater, and a pretty lip color. Call me crazy, but when I wear things like these, I feel happier and more confident – which is exactly what you need! So get comfy and wait for that call!

5. Answer with confidence

First impressions over the phone are way different than in person where you can shake your interviewers hand, look them straight in the eye, and show them your confident smile. But, over the phone, you have just a few seconds to grab your interviewers’ attention and make them love you from the start. Most likely the interviewer will be calling you, so you need to be ready to pick up the phone immediately. The simple way would be if you could just answer with, “Talk to me!” like Uncle Jessie from Full House! But while it might take some practice, your greeting should be professional. There’s nothing more awkward than answering the phone with, “Hello?” like you didn’t know your possible employer was scheduled to call. Instead, try something like, “Good morning, this is [Taylor Swift],” or, “Hello, [Beyoncé] speaking!” Though it might not be the most intuitive thing to us, it comes off as being unprepared and possibly apprehensive if you answer “Hello” as a question like usual. Take some advice from Buddy – I’m sure your employer won’t hang up after hearing that second part!

6. Smile!

It seems crazy, but trust me when I say that smiling while talking on the phone actually makes your tone of voice sound friendlier and more engaged. People will really want to get to know you better, because it sounds like you’ve got your life all together (which I’m sure it is!).    

7. Jot down notes

The purpose of this interview isn’t just so the admissions office or employer can get to know every detail about you. It’s also a chance for you to see if this place of work, or school, will be the right fit for your lifestyle and what you’re looking for. Write down what stands out to you based on your conversation, good or bad, so you can take that into consideration when choosing where you’d like to end up.

8. Send a thank-you email

Always show your gratitude towards the people who took the time to interview you. Let them know that you appreciate the conversation you had, and that you learned a lot about their workplace or school. Nice little gestures like this go a long way!

Good luck, you totally can do this!

Image credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Hi! My name is Amanda and I am one of the new Campus Correspondents for HC Pitt and am absolutely loving it! Helping others with advice about their articles and getting to read amazing stories has been so rewarding. I love writing about topics that make people's days just a little cheerier! Her Campus has been a wonderful experience for me over the past four years. I get to work with an amazing team every day and could not be more grateful. As a senior, looking back from where I started with Her Campus, I see how much it's changed me and all of the great friends I've made from it too. Saying HC is one of the best things that has happened to me during my college career would be an understatement! I really love how much it has grown and how much others have benefitted from their experience with our organization. HCXO <3
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