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Cell Phone Interview Etiquette & Tips

When searching for a job, it’s important to be ready for a phone interview at any time. Once your résumé is out there, the first step for many companies is to have a recruiter or HR representative reach out by phone to discuss the job opportunity and the applicant’s qualifications in more detail. You never get a second chance at a first impression, and this first phone call can make or break whether or not the candidate is referred on for further interviews.

Always Be Prepared

While many times, this phone call may be scheduled ahead of time, you should also be prepared for your cell phone to ring with an unfamiliar number, asking if you’re available to chat then and there about a job. This is why you should always answer phones professionally. You should also make sure that your voicemail greeting is appropriate and professional.

What if You Miss the Call?

If you miss a recruiter’s call or you sent them to your voicemail because you didn’t recognize the number, you should call them back immediately. If you’re not in a situation where you can call back that instant, make sure to do so as soon as possible, even if it is only to say that you can’t speak at the moment but would love to schedule a time to connect soon. It’s likely that a recruiter is making many calls to many candidates at the same time, and a lag in calling them back might hurt your chances of securing the job.

If this call was scheduled ahead of time and you miss it, you still shouldn’t panic. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t get the job. Call them as soon as you can and be accountable and apologetic. Ask if now is a good time to reschedule the phone interview, and make doubly sure to remove any obstacles that might keep you from making the second call.

Getting Ready for the Call

A cell phone interview may seem less intimidating than a formal, in-person interview, but it’s not always as easy as it seems. That said, practice can make perfect! Have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview with you and record it. Smartphones can even be loaded with apps that will allow you to record a call, so you could do a fully realistic mock interview by phone and record it. Then, you can go back, listen to the recording, and make note of if you need to slow down your pace, enunciate more clearly, or work on eliminating a lot of “ums” and “uhs.” If you don’t have someone who can help you with a mock interview, practice asking and answering questions on your own. Having a sense of what you want to say will help reduce your nerves and help you sound more confident and natural in the actual interview.

It’s All in the Details

Before the scheduled time of the call, make sure to confirm all of the details, such as the time, the date, and who you’ll be talking to. Also, make sure you know if the interviewer will be calling you or if they’re expecting you to make the call.

Right before the call, get yourself set up in a quiet, private space. The fewer distractions there are, the better! Have a pen and paper handy for taking notes, and make sure your résumé is right next to you so you can reference it easily. If you have a landline, use that rather than your cell phone to eliminate the possibility of dropped calls or bad reception.

Proper Phone Interview Etiquette

Here are a few guidelines that will help you make the best possible impression during your phone interview:

  • Answer the phone yourself: Don’t let friends or family members pick up your phone with a casual, “Hello.” When you answer the phone, give your name so that the interviewer knows they’ve got the right person on the line.
  • As your interviewer is speaking, listen carefully to them and don’t interrupt. This is what your pen and paper are for. If you think of something while your interviewer is speaking, write it down quickly and come back to it rather than interrupting them.
  • Don’t stress yourself out about pauses. If you need a few seconds to think about a question, don’t worry about it. You don’t want to leave too much dead air, but those awkward pauses really aren’t so awkward. It’s perfectly natural to think before you speak.

Don’t Forget the Follow-Up

One of the biggest and easiest-to-make mistakes with any interview is thinking that you nailed it but then forgetting the essential follow-up. Definitely say thank you at the end of the call as you’re wrapping up, but also make sure to send them a quick than-you email afterward. This is also a place where you can add in details about your qualifications that maybe you forgot to mention during the call.

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