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How to prepare for a phone interview

By Ben Madden | 29 September 2021


If you’re looking for a new job, then chances are you’ll be asked to take part in a phone interview, especially with more and more people working from home. While they can be daunting, phone interviews are a great way to showcase your skills and experience to a potential employer. 

We’ve put together some tips to help you ace your next phone interview, so you can take the next step in your career.

What are the advantages of phone interviews?

Phone interviews are beneficial for both hiring managers and potential candidates, as they eliminate the need for travel to/from the interview location. This means that candidates can apply for jobs globally, opening up career possibilities worldwide, as well as allowing hiring managers to search for talent in places they might not otherwise be able to look if they were restricted to locations where people can interview in-person. 

Phone interviews are also much more cost effective for hiring managers. All they need to do is ring the potential candidate and conduct the interview, meaning they can schedule a range of interviews in quick succession, rather than needing to allow time for people to arrive for the interview. It’s a great way to scope out people’s suitability for a role, without committing the resources that would be needed to conduct a range of face-to-face interviews. 

How to succeed in phone interviews

Tip #1 – Make a great first impression.

Don’t get caught by surprise when taking part in a phone interview. Have a greeting prepared for when you answer the phone, something that shows enthusiasm and confidence, while also thanking the interviewer for their time. Once you’ve left a great first impression, the rest of the interview should go smoothly.

Tip #2 – Use the STAR method.

The STAR method is a great way to answer any phone interview questions, and it stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. The STAR method is a great way to show a challenge you’ve faced, how you tackled it, and the benefits of your actions.

Tip #3 – Have resources nearby.

woman on phone taking notes

One of the benefits of a phone interview is that interviewers can’t see what you’re up to – so it can be beneficial to have the company’s website/notes you’ve made nearby. It’ll help you construct responses to the interviewer’s questions, as well as give you the confidence you need to ace the interview. 

Tip #4 – Make sure you’re listening.

It can be tempting to spend the majority of the phone interview thinking of the perfect answers to questions. However, if you’re not actively listening, you might miss some important information from the interviewer, or answer questions in a way that they weren’t looking for. Ensure you’re taking onboard the information the interviewer is giving you, so you’re putting your best foot forward with each answer.

Tip #5 – Eliminate distractions. 

When you’re expecting a phone interview, you’ll want to create an environment conducive to an engaging conversation. Find a location that has good phone reception, as well as low outside noise, so you don’t experience any technology issues in the interview – after all, the last thing you want is for the call to drop out at a pivotal moment.

Tip #6 – Don’t forget to ask questions.

While a job interview’s primary focus is to get to know the interviewee, it’s important to show that you’re invested in landing the new job. Ask pertinent questions of the interviewer about the potential role, and what you’d be doing if you came on board with the company, so you can make an informed decision if you’re offered the position.

What are some common questions asked in phone interviews?

man talking on the phone

When you’re in a phone interview, chances are that you’ll get asked some questions that address your strengths, weaknesses and experience. You can expect questions like:

What are your strengths?

Here, the employer wants to know how your skill set can benefit the company. It’s important to show examples of how you’ve used unique skills in previous roles, and how they positively impacted the business.

What are your weaknesses?

This is a great time to show self-awareness. Mention something that you’ve either previously worked on, or are currently working on, and how becoming proficient at this skill will benefit your overall performance in the workplace.

Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?

Employers want to know what your career plan looks like. If you’re going for a role that will involve personal/professional development, then thinking about where you’d like to be in the medium/long-term future means you’ll be able to answer this question with ease.

Why did you leave your last role?

This question is a great way for employers to understand your career progression to date, as well as why you’re looking for a new position. Ensure you talk about wanting more opportunity, as well as expanded responsibilities, so employers can be confident you’ll be committed to the company. 

Looking for a new career, and want to upskill? 

Upskilled’s range of nationally recognised qualifications can help you make your next career move, no matter what industry you’re in. You can find out more about Upskilled’s courses via our website here, or alternatively, get in contact with Upskilled’s education consultants on 1300 009 924 to discuss how you can make your next career move (and get some practice in asking and answering questions over the phone)!

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