How To Prepare For A Phone Interview So You Move Onto The Next Round

Preparing for a phone interview isn’t as easy as they all make it sound. It’s not just about preparing yourself with the potential questions that you might be asked. In 2019, the competition is steeper. You need to prepare yourself in brand new ways. In this guide, we’re going to cover what those methods are, how to put them into action, and how to get you to even closer to being hired.

Generally speaking, there are still some helpful and simple guidelines for preparing yourself. Those would consist of the following:

  • Ensure you are in a quiet spot.
  • Ensure your phone is charged.
  • Ensure you have headphones with high audio quality.
  • Ensure you have the correct date and time.
  • Ensure you have anticipated the potential questions you could be asked and how you’ll answer them.
  • Ensure you have your resume on hand so that you can speak to questions that might be related to it.
  • Ensure you are prepared to with questions that you might have for them so that you seem engaged.

Those are the area’s which most articles will tell you, regarding how to prepare. And for the most part, they are true. But they are also somewhat obvious and don’t necessarily mean that you’ll be moved onto the next round. Especially as more people have knowledge that this is how you should act during the interview session.

So what really makes candidates move onto the next round in 2019 and beyond? Knowledge and passion for the business. Keep in mind that as of today, there are more candidates out in the job market than ever before. More people are being born and more people are staying in employment longer. Retirement is somewhat unachievable for most of America. So that means they are going to stay working, longer in life. Meaning, fewer jobs. Fewer jobs mean more competition for those jobs. At the end of it, that leaves you, having to be more creative about how you are going to secure your future employment.

Here are the new methods you should be embracing to make yourself stand out and increase your chances of moving onto your second round interview.

Scour Company Press Releases

If the company is publicly traded, they will have quarterly investor reports. Take some time to figure out what part of the business is working well and what part of the business is not working so well. In a way, the transcripts of the investor reports need to address these. Find ways to softly bring up your knowledge of these subject matters. It will make you appear as though you’ve already been hired within the business. If the company is not public, try to research recent press that they may have had and what factors they brought up to the press. Was it recent growth in accounts? What is a decline in the business model? Good or bad, find what they’re working on and integrate that into your discussion and preparation.

Research The Vision Of The Company

Before you get onto the phone call, take at least 30 minutes to perform a significant amount of research regarding the companies future. This should be the company you are about to interview with. Be sure you are watching YouTube video’s with the CEO or reading the mission statement on the Website. Or even reading through the recent press releases. Your goal should be to understand what the mission of the business is, going forward. This will help you to be able to comprehend parts of the interview session which may relate directly to the business goals and make yourself seem more aware of who the company is. Without this knowledge, you will be interpreted as uninterested in the company and uninterested in the position.

Research The History Of The Company

Similar to researching the vision of the company, which is a forward outlook, you should be reading about the companies history. This will help you to be able to answer questions like, “Why do you want to work here?” Because this will give you an opportunity to explain that you know the history and foundation to the roots of the business. And that will make you stand out significantly. It will be perceived as though you have a strong passion for the business.

Research The Hiring Manager

Before you jump on the phone, you need to know who you are speaking with. If you can start the conversation with a friendly opening note, you’ll have more chemistry in the discussion. Research their LinkedIn or their personal Web site. Is there a funny cat picture as their profile image on LinkedIn? If so, bring that up. Are there colleagues that you have in common which you can use to start the conversation? If so, bring that up. Find a common thread between you and the interviewer so that you can feel more human and connect on a slightly deeper level.

Be Concise, Manage Their Time

There’s nothing worse than having someone speak for 10 minutes about themselves. Especially as a hiring manager. Think about it from their perspective, they will be interviewing anywhere from 10 - 20 people in a week. They may simply ignore long stories due to the volume of interviews they are performing. Be impactful, be short, manage their time for them. If you are approaching the 10-minute mark in the conversation, be sure to bring that up. You’ll show leadership by doing this.

Ask How You Can Move Forward

It’s a pretty simple technique but it shows confidence and proactive interest in having the opportunity move forward. Before the conversation ends, simply ask, “What can I do to move forward on this? I’d love the opportunity to secure this role.” Be as direct as possible. You’d be surprised at how effective it can be to be blunt about your interest in the job function.

Ask Who Your Direct Report Will Be And Who They Are

Another way to show great levels of interest in the position is to ask who your direct report will be. This is a simple way to communicate to the hiring manager that you are eager to begin. Ask who they are, what they’re working on. By asking more questions than answering them, you somewhat flip the script in a way. You change up the conversation and make yourself stand out from the rest of the crowd who are simply answering the questions.

Putting It All Together, Being Prepared

When you’ve taken the time to put all of these methods into a document you can reference during the phone session, you’ll have the best available knowledge to speak to the hiring manager. Remember that the hiring managers have a pretty strong understanding of the business, they are often being spoken to directly from the leadership level. And because of this, if you don’t seem as though you are knowledgeable about the business, you will be passed off. Write down notes which you feel are stronger than the rest, keep them concise so that you can reference them while having the phone conversation. In total, you should be spending at least 2-3 hours preparing for the phone interview, using these methods above. Your cheat sheet should be less than 1 page. Try to make it handwritten so that you can place it into memory versus having it on a computer screen. Remember to be concise, be proactive, speak as though you are already hired and you’ll get hired!

If you are curious about what you should do after the phone session, read our resource on sending a thank you note after your interview. You'll want to send a thank you to note to the hiring manager after your phone interview is concluded. And send more thank you notes as you speak with more employee's part of the hiring process as a whole. Expect that you could speak with up to four employees and potentially one person part of the leadership team before you are given an offer of employment.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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