Have a Phone Interview? This is Exactly How to Ace it.

During the hiring process, a brief phone screening is most commonly the first step a recruiter will take to determine if you’re a qualified candidate with the potential to lead to an in-person interview. With only 15-20 minutes to introduce yourself and how you can contribute to the company, knowing how to effectively communicate your experience and qualifications is critical to moving forward with the next step. If you’ve been offered a phone interview, congratulations! Follow these steps to ensure you ace it and impress the hiring manager.

Offer Multiple Availability Options

Between classes, jobs and extracurricular activities, it can be difficult to determine the best time to schedule a phone call in which you’ll have the opportunity to be focused and well prepared. However, when asked about your availability for a phone call, be as flexible as possible. Send the hiring manager multiple time frames throughout the upcoming weeks that work with your schedule and plan accordingly.

Answer the Call Professionally

Answering the call in a quiet, private location where you know there will be no distractions is an important, but often overlooked, step in the phone interview process. Greet the hiring manager in an upbeat, professional manner, opening with “hello, this is (your name.)” If you need to reschedule the call to ensure you’ll have the best time for a professional conversation, try to do so at least a day in advance.

Practice Your Elevator Pitch

Likely, the conversation will begin with the hiring manager asking you to describe yourself. This is where creating and practicing a strong elevator pitch will be most beneficial. An effective elevator pitch should be a brief, 1-2 minute explanation of your educational background, internship or professional experience, and future career goals in a way that directly impacts the company you’re interviewing with. An elevator pitch should be a general description of you as a professional, but never too rehearsed. In other words...

Know Your Audience

Show that you understand the available opportunity and demonstrate how your skills can support the team and fulfill unmet needs. This will vary with each company you speak with, so it’s important to do research on the industry, company, and pay close attention to every detail of the job description. Preparing for a phone interview should be no different than preparing for an in-person meeting; doing your homework takes time and commitment. Actively listen to what the hiring manager is saying and adjust your answers accordingly. Express genuine enthusiasm and excitement about the role; keep in mind that although it might not be your dream job, even the most entry-level positions are an opportunity to learn and develop professionally, whether that’s with a promotion or a move to another company. Stay positive and focus on how this position can benefit your ultimate career goals while also demonstrating how you can benefit the company.

Promptly Follow-Up

Make sure to follow-up with a thank-you email to the hiring manager within a few hours of the phone call. This not only displays a level of professionalism and commitment to the company, but an eager interest in the available position.

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