Engineering graduate navigating life after university.

Acing that phone interview

You’ve got an email and your heart skips a beat. Is this real life? Do I have a chance at a payable employment? I’ve personally been there and literally started sweating bullets because the next line on the email read, “please list three times which we can contact you for a quick phone interview.” There goes this great opportunity, because I suck at talking on the phone. Um can we please do this via iMessage?

I’ve been through so many phone interviews and I can confidently state a majority of them has caused excessive sweating. 4 years and 10 phone call interviews later, I have officially reached a stage where I can keep my chill and talk to a recruiter on the phone without laughing uncontrollably. I want to share with you the tips I use to help me keep composed while I am on a call with a recruiter.

1. Print your resume and have it in front of you

This is so important because I used to be one of those people that thought I knew everything about myself on a resume and didn’t need a sheet to tell me. Then one time a recruiter brought up a specific characteristic or event and I could not trace back where I exhibited that. So then I had to pull up my resume and apologize to the recruiter for missing a critical component

2. Rehearse important questions in front of a mirror

The recruiter will definitely ask you the generic questions such as: why did you apply to this role? Why do you want to work for this company? Tell me a little bit about yourself? Tell me: about a time when you faced a conflict, about when you had to do a project with various people and struggled, how you handled a tough situation and etc. Hear yourself answer these questions in front of a mirror and smile through them. Smiling can easily boost your confidence.

3. Have important stats in front of you and prepare your questions to ask

Aside from your resume, have important information in front of you. Having stats like the company such as when it was founded, how many employees, volunteering activity and current news relating to the company and etc. are  good things to bring up during your interview. Instead of estimating these numbers, have a definite number to impress your recruiter and show them how serious you are about this job position.

It is also best to have the answers written to questions you expect to be asked during a telephone job interview. This will help calm you down since you can refer to the written doc in front of you.

It is also wise to write down questions you wish to ask at the end of the interview. Don’t be that person that says I have no questions. You should always have at least two questions to ask a recruiter. Good questions like, “what is the team structure like” or “how can one succeed in this role” show the recruiter how interested you are in the job.

4. Pick your space carefully

Pick a quiet, isolated space to attend the call interview. Make sure you eliminate all distractions including family members barging in your room – my brother once walked right in my room and started singing to me while I was on call. How are you going to explain to a recruiter to hold up, let me kick my brother out of my room.

5. Breathe

Your heart is probably beating faster and faster when the clock approaches the scheduled call time. Remind yourself that you’ve got this and you have nothing to lose. Even if this job doesn’t work out, you will find something better! Everything will work out. Never think of a job interview call as life or death. There is a reason why a recruiter picked you out from a handful of resumes. It wasn’t a mistake. Just breathe and take it easy because the recruiter is already interested in you. Just please her with your personality now and make sure you know what you wrote on your resume.

6. Don’t be 100% serious

The last thing any one wants in their team is a robot. In fact, they want employees with personality. Someone who can work hard and play harder. So make sure that your fun side shine throughs your call. It may be hard on the phone but it is not impossible. Make sure you laugh are enthusiastic and have an engaging conversation. Don’t just answer and move from question to question. Make the conversation engaging.

7. Ask questions

Never not ask questions. As said previously, questions show how interested you are in the job. If you have good questions, it will clearly show you are interested. Search on google and write down interesting questions to ask.

8. Send thank you note

At the end of the call, wait at least an hour and email the recruiter to thank them for their time. Make sure you ask them for next steps – if you haven’t asked them already while on your call.


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