Tips for honing your phone interview skills

Once you’ve perfected your resume and written a cover letter that sets you apart from your peers, the next step in the process is often a phone interview. Most executive search firms will screen each applicant with a phone call before setting up an in-person interview, so the phone interview should not be taken lightly – this is your first chance to speak at length about why your skill set makes you a perfect fit for the position. To prepare for an upcoming phone screener, keep these helpful hints in mind.

Eliminate distractions and interruptions

Phone interviews demand your full attention, and you need to ensure that nothing distracts you from selling yourself and explaining why you’d be a great fit for the position. If possible, use a landline for the conversation. Tell the interviewer if you’re speaking from a mobile phone, and apologize in advance for a potential service interruption.

Know your time constraints

Before the discussion gets underway, ask the interviewer how much time he or she has to speak with you. The interviewer is probably busy and may be screening other candidates, which could mean that you have a very short window during which to present your skills. Asking about time constraints shows that you’re being considerate of the other person’s time, and also helps you to pace your responses and figure out how much information you can cover.

Be prepared

Although phone interviews have become a common first-round interview tactic, many candidates still don’t treat them with the seriousness they demand. Applicants should prepare for the conversations as diligently as they would for in-person interviews. Forbes recommended that interviewees keep lists of five to 10 accomplishments they want to discuss throughout the interview. The items on this list should be stories that illustrate your abilities and highlight the impressive work that you’ve done with other firms.

Don’t talk too much

During phone interviews, brevity is key. Keep an eye on the clock while answering questions, and try not to talk for more than one minute at a time. If the one-minute mark passes and you have more details that you’d like to share, pause briefly and ask the interviewer if more detail would be helpful.

Follow up – fast

Before you get off the phone, ask the interviewer about the next step in the process and try to get a sense of when you’ll be hearing from him or her again. After the interview, send an email within 24 hours that includes specific details from the conversation, thanks the interviewer for his or her time and highlights the ways that you could help the company should you be chosen for the role.

About Caldwell Partners

Caldwell Partners is a leading international provider of executive search and has been for more than 40 years. As one of the world’s most trusted advisors in executive search, the firm has a sterling reputation built on successful searches for boards, chief and senior executives, and selected functional experts. With offices and partners across North America and in London, the firm takes pride in delivering an unmatched level of service and expertise to its clients.

Back to Insights

Stay on top of the latest intel across multiple industries and continents.