Mastering the Phone Interview: 10 Tips to Help You Succeed

It’s March again, which means many of you are probably in the process of interviewing for summer internships. In the summer internship world, February is application month, March is interview month, and April is find out and decide month! Often college students will be applying for internships in cities other than where they attend school, which brings us to today’s topic: The Phone Interview.

I’ve heard from so many people that they dread the phone interview, but for some reason, I love it! In my opinion, the phone interview allows you to be the most prepared. Here are my top 10 tips for mastering the phone interview!

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1. Do your research on the company, the position, and the interviewer. I like to read through a company’s case studies and choose my favorite, that way I can reference it when I’m asked why I’d like to work for that company. Your answer to this question should reflect why you want to work for their company, not just in the field of, say, PR. Also make sure to have a compete understanding of the job qualifications, that way you can show why you’re the best fit! I also like to look at my interviewer on the company website and/or LinkedIn, so I can get a sense of their professional background and interests.

2. Mirror the company’s phrasing. From your research, you’ll gather that each company has their own way of referring to clients, meetings, continued learning, internship programs, etc. Prove to the company that you fit in by mirroring the language they use!

3. Set up a phone interview kit. When I’m doing a phone interview, I like to sit at my dining room table. In front of me I have a notebook and pen to take notes, a glass of water, a copy of my resume and any other application materials I’ve submitted, and a list of the questions I’m going to ask at the end of the interview. I also like to have my laptop in front of me, with the company’s website and internship description in front of me. It helps me feel more comfortable and allows me to reference specific details of the job!

4. Prepare strong questions. These questions aren’t just to prove you’re interested – you want to make sure you’d enjoy working for this company, too! Some of my favorite questions to ask on an interview are: “What has been your favorite client/account to work on?” “What is the company culture/atmosphere?” “What are some of the qualities exhibited by your best interns in the past?” “How are account teams structured; do interns work primarily with one client, or several?” I also research the company and ask any questions about their specific programs that I’d like to know – be specific!

5. Prepare strong answers. You’ll never know exactly what an interviewer will ask, but there are definitely ways to prepare anyway. “Tell me about yourself” is an opportunity to showcase your strengths, passions, and dedication – not just tell them what they can read on your resume. Some other questions I like to prepare for are: “What stood out to you about our company?” “Why did you become interested in this field?” “What are some of the publications/blogs you read regularly?”

6. Dress the part. Yes, this is important for a phone interview, as well! If you’re too casual, you won’t feel the need to be as professional, especially since they can’t see you. Dress the way you want to feel: prepared!

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7. Smile. It will help you sound friendly and also let your personality come across, which can sometimes be a challenge on the phone!

8. Volume, then silent. Leave your phone on full volume to make sure you don’t miss the interviewer’s call, but then flip the switch to silent as soon as you answer. You don’t want the “ding!” of a text message to come through, causing you to miss the interviewer’s question!

9. Prepare your environment. Use the lighting, room temperature, and chair that makes you feel most comfortable for this setting. Make sure not to start your washing machine or dishwasher right before the interview, and if you have any roommates, let them know you’ll be interviewing so they can keep quiet, too!

10. Email your thank-you note. Thank-you note emails have become much more acceptable in recent years (instead of, or in addition to handwritten ones), but especially with a phone interview, an email is necessary. They will definitely make a decision before your handwritten letter will reach them, so I like to send my thank-you email within 3 hours.

How do you prepare for a phone interview? Let me know in the comments or tweet @staceyalevine!

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