If you’re looking for work, there’s a lot to keep organized. Phone interviews are usually the first part of the hiring process for companies, and they may be short and to the phone to check you have the credentials for the job. But it’s good to look at the phone interview as your foot in the door for some exciting job opportunities, even if the phone interview seems a little underwhelming. So, there’s merit in establishing some go-to behaviors for phone interviews, which starts with organizing them on your calendar. We have some cheat sheet tips that will help you do well on these interviews so that you can move on to the longer and more important face-to-face encounter.

Phone Interview Cheat Sheet

The best part of phone interviews is that the interviewer can’t see what you’re doing during the call. However, they certainly can hear what you’re doing, so make sure you’re not washing dishes or doing something else that creates background disruptions. However, you can have a cheat sheet near your phone that will allow you to answer questions in the best way possible. While a cheat sheet isn’t a script, it can step up to help you out if you’re nervous and draw a blank during a phone call. Use the phone interview cheat sheet to prepare a few important points in advance to help you do well on the call.

At the top of the sheet, put the name of the interviewer and their role. Have the job description handy, along with a copy of your resume, so you won’t have to worry about remembering dates. The first interview question will almost always start with, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” Keep in mind that this shouldn’t be a long recitation of how you loved college or how organic gardening is your greatest interest in life. When a recruiter asks you to describe yourself, they’re asking you to describe yourself within the context of the job you’re applying for. So, every time you do a phone interview, your answer should be slightly different based on the job you’re applying for. An easy way to format your answer is:

  1. Talk about what you’re doing currently. Keep it brief—no more than a couple of minutes—and focus on the parts of your current job that will be relevant to the job you’re applying for.
  2. Give a one-minute “elevator pitch” for your past job history.
  3. Finish by talking about your goals in applying for this job, again, keeping it to one or two minutes at most.

You might want to practice this before you do the interview, to be safe.

Next, think about the key skills and accomplishments you’ve had to date. Looking at the current job description of the job you’re applying to, how can your experiences fit it to the current employer? This should go on your cheat sheet.

You can also prepare by developing some standard answers to behavioral questions such as:

  • Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a coworker on the job. How did you resolve it?
  • What was the “best mistake” you ever made on the job? What did you learn?
  • What was your biggest career accomplishment?

Finally, give some thought to why you want this job, when you can start, and what salary expectations you have for the position. All of this preparation and your cheat sheet will help you nail the phone interview and move on to the next round.

Are you looking for work? Practice your interview skills with IES. We can help your career, and our service is free to job seekers. Contact us today.

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