Everything You Need to Ace Your Next Phone Interview

Interview Tips

November 30, 2021

Phone interviews have become an increasingly common feature of the recruitment process in modern-day organisations. With the emergence of remote and hybrid work environments, employers use on-call interactions as a screening test for candidates’ professional conduct. 

When you are an international graduate student on the lookout for job opportunities with worker visa sponsorships, every step is crucial. And phone interview is an opportunity to leave a powerful first impression. 


7 Ways to Make a Lasting Impression in Phone Interviews


Do Your Homework

The work you do beforehand can make a huge difference in your performance during a phone interview. Examining the workplace values and what they look for in an employee can help you tailor your pitch to their needs. Company websites, LinkedIn profiles, and online review platforms like Indeed and Glassdoor can help you with this research. Additionally, you can reach out to alumni working in the organisation and quiz them about their experience. 


Answer Professionally

Typically, recruiters select only 2-4 candidates for on-site interviews. Thus, the phone interview is a chance to get a headstart in the competition. But this time, good answers and body language won’t be enough. How you sound is pivotal. 

Be prepared for potential pitfalls, such as a faulty connection or any background noise. Take the call in a quiet location with proper network coverage, and use headphones to avoid distractions. Also, practice your opening remarks to come across enthusiastic, professional, and confident to the interviewer. Let them know that you were ready and waiting for the call at the outset. For example:

You: Hello, this is [Your Full Name].
Them: Hi, this is [Their Name]. I am calling from [Company Name].
You: Hi [Their First Name], thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.


This exchange would give the interviewer the required information and set the tone, moving forward.


Listen to the interviewer

When a question is posed, you may not have the answer right away. In such a scenario, it is best to take your time instead of speaking without clarification. Use these statements when you are unsure:

Thank you for that question. Please give me a minute to think before I share.
I have a few ideas. Let me take a minute to gather my thoughts and answer.
I am not clear on what you mean by XYZ. Could you explain it?
Before I answer, could you confirm that you are referring to ABC?

Most interviewees also tend to talk faster in high-stress situations. So, be mindful that the person on the other end of the line does not have access to your visual cues and remind yourself to slow down. A conversational style works best to establish a rapport or interpersonal connection over the phone. 

Another way to avoid rambling is to take adequately timed pauses. Consider this: You have started to recount a long story and the interviewer attempts to jump back in. There’s no harm in stopping and seeing what they want to get at. And perhaps, you could relay the instance at some other point. Letting them interrupt would demonstrate your self-awareness and respect for others’ time. 

Stick to the relevant points

Keep a copy of your resume and the job description handy. Having these resources in front of you will help you stick to the topic and highlight your strong points. International students can browse Student Circus for jobs and internships in a variety of career fields. You can pull up the job descriptions online or take a printout for later reference. Reach out to your University Career Service to create a job-landing CV. This will help you present your profile without missing out on anything critical. 

You don’t want to spend a 30-minute phone interview on 2-3 questions. Instead, you should answer briefly and directly in a way that aligns the job requirements with your skills. This can only happen if you have all the talking points and important facts ready as bullet points.


Practice a mock interview

Create a pre-interview checklist with some commonly-asked interview questions. Jot down details of your experience, data points, and achievements with a view of addressing behaviour-based topics. Practice these answers before the interview, so that your responses don’t seem overly rehearsed. Here, a mock interview can take your preparation up a notch. You can also record yourself on audio notes or videos, and replay them to observe how you come across to the interviewer.

Ask follow-up questions

Towards the end, the interviewer might ask you if you have any questions for them. Don’t be afraid to take this opportunity to enquire about the next steps. If selected for the next round, by when would you typically hear back? What are the timelines for the entire recruitment process? Keep a pen and paper nearby to remember important information. Take cues and work the details into any messages you send to the interviewer after the interview.

That said, the interviewer could also have some final questions for you. Let them know that you are actively engaged and open to more questions if they have any. 

Reflect and thank the interviewer

Once you are off the phone, take 10-15 minutes to reflect on the interview. Write down what you discussed and what you would like to cover in a possible second interview. Doing this exercise right away would prompt new ideas and indicate any changes that you should make in the future. 

Another best practice is to send a thank-you email to the recruiter. If you don’t have the email address, you can ask for it at the end of the phone call. Follow this format for the email:

Subject Line (Phone Interview_Job Title_Your Name)
Salutation (with the interviewer’s name) and greetings.
Opening sentence thanking them for the opportunity.
Additional comments regarding what you discussed during the interview.
Extra information that you were unable to give on the phone.
A line stating that you look forward to hearing from them.
Your name and contact information or email signature.

Put these insights into practice, and you would pass any phone interview with flying colours.

Written by Arushi Sharma

Photo by René Ranisch on Unsplash

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