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Phone interviews are so important—they’re known as phone screens for a reason. Employers are looking for reasons to screen you out and narrow down the list of face-to-face interviewees. How can you prepare for phone interviews so that you make it to the face-to-face?

Do Your Homework on the Company

Even though it’s ‘just’ a phone interview, take the time to find out about the company and the job. Don’t use the interview as the time to find out what they do.

Make a List of Questions to Ask

Be sure to ask questions in this conversation. You’ll seem more intelligent and more interested in the job. What should you ask? Ask about why the job is open and what happened to the person who held it last. Ask about what they’re ideally looking for in the person who takes the spot. Ask about their biggest challenges. Above all, ask for the face-to-face meeting.

Practice Answering Typical Phone Interview Questions

You can bet that some questions will get asked in almost all phone interviews, like ‘Why are you interested in this job?’ or ‘Why are you leaving your current job?’ You’ll probably be asked to ‘Tell me about yourself.’ Rehearse your answers ahead of time so that you can see how they sound and improve them if necessary.

Spread Out Notes in Front of You

Print out your resume and lay it in front of you on the desk (or table). Also lay out notes for questions you’d like to ask, things you’d like to make sure you mention about yourself, and anything else that might help you. A big advantage you have here is that they can’t see you and your notes; so use it.

Make Sure You Have a Pen and Paper for Taking Notes

Putting a pen to paper is much quieter (and therefore better) for taking notes in a phone call. You never know when you’ll need to write down a website, a name, or a phone number. I’ve interviewed candidates before who had to look for a pen to take down a number, and I can tell you it’s irritating. It did not make me think well of them as job candidates.

Set the Scene

Make sure you can have your phone conversation in a quiet room with no distractions.

Dress Up for the Call

Dressing as if you were traveling to interview in person is a good idea to prepare for phone interviews. It will put you in the right frame of mind (professional and powerful), which will come through in your voice.

Prepare for Phone Interviews

It’s worth your time to prepare for phone interviews. Your interview will be better and stronger, and you’ll be more likely to make it to the face-to-face.

If you want more information, check out my series Phone Interviews: The 37 Most Essential and Extraordinary Tips That Will Get You to the Face-to-Face