How to Rock a Phone Interview

by Olivia Barker

Job hunting season is OFFICIALLY OPENED! I will be honest, phone interviews are my least favorite part of the interview process. You only have a short time to sell yourself to the people on the other end of the line. You have to be charming, but professional; confident, but humble; concise, but detailed…there really is an art to the phone interview. Below are some tips that I have found helpful in my career:

Prepare: Do your research! Look at an organization chart, find out what other departments are hosted under the division, know the administration, read the mission, vision and values statements for both the office you are applying to and the institution, review campus demographics, find out everything you can about the place you could potentially be working. Wiki and the university’s website will be an incredible resource (yes I just said Wiki is an incredible resource)! Once you have your arsenal of information, start thinking about what you can contribute to this office and how your experiences align. I like to jot down my information on
 paper, just in case I get nervous and forget something I really want to share. I know this seems easy, but nerves will get you every time! When I sit down for a phone interview, I like clear my schedule for 15 minutes before and after, be in a calm and quiet environment, have my notes, my resume, the job description and some encouraging words nearby to boost my confidence (see right). Do what you need to feel comfortable and confident so you can show the people on the other end of the line just how awesome you are!

Use All of Your Experiences: My very first interview was with University of Texas at Austin. I 
will never forget this interview, the questions they asked or the basketball sized lump I had in my throat the whole time! I have always wanted to live in Austin, the position was perfect and I knew I’d make one of heck of a Longhorn. I did all of my research, I prepared with mock interviews and I was confident I would have a great interview! The first question came and I gave a pretty good response and supported it with examples from one of my experiences. The second question came and I had another good response, again, supporting it with an example. The third, fourth and fifth questions all came and by the time I was finished with my interview I realized all I talked about was an alternative spring break trip I planned. Literally…that was it! I had planned 5ks, a president’s retreat for over 100 student organization presidents, a leadership summit for hundreds of students, an incoming freshman leadership camp, I’d facilitated trainings, workshops and meetings with students and administration, but all I talked about was one experience. Be sure you vary up your experiences to show just how dynamic you really are!

Ask for Feedback: Chances are your first phone interview will not be your last and it is extremely helpful to find out what you can do better so you can improve for your next interview. I’ve been told to be sure to communicate my varied experience, that I did not have enough experience compared to the other candidates and that I had a great interview, but they had an internal candidate. It is always a little disappointing when you do not get an on-campus, but knowing why will just help you better prepare for your next phone interview!

And most importantly…

Be Authentic: A phone interview is a gateway interview. It’s time for an interviewer to find out

a little about your experience, but mostly to get to know you and see if they want to know more. Let your personality and strengths shine. As a woo, I feel like I was made for interviews. I love winning others over and what better time than an interview? If you are a woo-er, woo them, if not, just be yourself. My friend Jonathan Davis said “Be yourself, let you come through.” Use YOUR strengths to land that on-campus interview!

Interviews are the one time in your life when you get to talk about all of your successes and what you do well and everyone on the other end is excited to be listening! Be sure you are ready to knock them off their feet! Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

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