When you embark on your job search and start landing interviews, it’s a safe bet that a short phone interview will be the first step in the process. Understanding the anatomy of the standard 30-minute phone interview is one of the most important parts of your job search as a candidate. Remember: You’ll need to make it past the phone interview if you expect to be advanced to the next face-to-face interview round, so you need to make it count for all it’s worth.
But what should you expect out of a 30-minute phone interview? Who will you be talking to, and what kind of phone interview questions can you expect? And how should you respond?
Let’s dive in and examine the anatomy of the 30-minute phone interview so you’re well-prepared to tackle this initial stage of the interview process. We’ll also offer plenty of phone interview tips to help you put your best foot forward during your next call.
The Role of the Interviewer
The interviewer’s job – usually, a hiring manager or department lead – is to make sure you’re a good match for the position, and that you meet the qualifications needed for the job. As the candidate, it’s important to understand that your primary goal is to convince the interviewer to advance you to the next phase of the selection process. You have one objective: to impress during this interview in order to move on to the next one.
What follows is what should be discussed during the anatomy of the 30-minute phone interview.
The Anatomy of the 30-Minute Phone Interview
While any given phone interview can vary in length and substance depending on the job, the interviewer, and the flow of conversation, you can generally expect a phone interview to follow a pattern. It consists of an introduction, a description of the job, the candidate’s input, and a time for questions.
Introduction – 5 Minutes
When the interviewer calls, you can expect a formal introduction. It’s always best to assume it’s a recruiter calling when your phone rings, since you’re active in the job market.
The call will begin with the interviewer outlining what to expect in the interview, and perhaps throughout the interview process as a whole. The introduction allows the interviewer to tell you about their company and the role they’ll have in the interview process. They might also share their own experience and qualifications.
The interviewer will be in possession of your resume, so they’ll be prepared to discuss your qualifications and work history. Before the call, you should have reviewed the essential company information as well as the job description – that allows you to be well-prepared for the phone interview session.
Job Description – 5 Minutes
During this stage, you’ll share with the interviewer your understanding of the job description. You should also share why you feel your qualifications and experience make you an ideal choice for the role. Be prepared to relate your past experience to the job you’re applying for, even if you didn’t work in the exact same kind of position in the past. The interviewer wants to hear that you have skills and experience that make you a good fit for the position, even if you haven’t worked the specific job before.
Candidate Input – 15 Minutes
The job description phase will transition into the candidate input phase. This is your time to share your relevant experience as it pertains to job qualifications. For these 15 minutes, you have the opportunity to share why you should be hired – it’s your time to shine. But this time can seem like an eternity when it happens; you’ll want to be prepared.
Note that it’s acceptable for the interviewer to interrupt with questions as you review your qualifications. Be prepared to support your comments with facts and documentation (verbal at this point). It’s good practice to have the job description in front of you during the call so that you can be assured you’ve addressed everything listed in the description and haven’t omitted anything in your discussion. Coming prepared with index cards filled with notes and other information that may slip your mind during the interview is always a good idea.
Questions – 5 Minutes
Almost invariably, the interviewer will wrap up the interview by asking you if you have any questions. Come prepared with some – having no questions can make it seem like you’re disengaged or not really interested in the role.
Make sure your questions are relevant. Asking “So… what are the next steps?” is a throwaway question. You know what the next steps are. What you don’t know is if you will make it to the next phase in the interview process. Instead, try asking about the company’s training program. Or, better yet, ask the interviewer what they like about the company. These questions can spark legitimate conversations that not only tell you more about the role, but show that you’re truly invested in the process and passionate about growing your career with the company.
ABC – Always Be Closing
Make no mistake about it – you’re selling your qualifications to the prospective employer. That’s why you always need to “ask for the business” as the interview draws to a close.
Your closing statement should go something like this: “Mrs. Jones, I want to thank you for the opportunity to present my qualifications for this position with ACME Industries. I know that my experience and successful past performance will allow me to immediately contribute to ACME’s sales performance. Can I count on your support to advance me to the next phase of the interview process?”
When you close strong, you’ll leave a good impression with the hiring manager and make it that much more likely you’ll move on to the next phase.
More Tips for Acing Your Phone Interview
Here are some additional phone interview tips that can help you throughout the various stages of the typical 30-minute phone interview:
Don’t Talk Too Fast
It’s natural to be a little nervous before and during a phone interview – it’s okay. The trick is reminding your mind and body to compensate for that. Most of us start talking faster when we get nervous, so remind yourself to slow it down and modulate your speaking pace. Focus on breathing naturally and speaking at a reasonable rate so that the interviewer can easily understand you.
Strange as it sounds for a phone interview, physically smiling during the initial greeting is a good idea. Smiles are contagious, even through the phone – the listener can get a sense of your mood through the way your voice sounds, and it will change depending on whether you’re smiling or not. Start things off with a pleasant tone by remembering to smile as the introductions start.
Plan Ahead of Time
Before the phone interview, think about where you will be physically when the call happens. You want to choose a quiet, calm spot – that way, the interviewer will be able to hear you clearly with no distractions, and you will be less stressed when talking in a calm environment. And make sure you let other family members or roommates know that you’ll be interviewing so that they don’t interrupt your call or distract you.
It’s A Conversation, Not an Interrogation
Try to think of your phone interview as a conversation between you and the hiring manager or department head. It’s not an interrogation – the interviewer’s job is not to judge your qualifications themselves, but to find out whether your qualifications and experience align with the role they’re hiring for. It’s that simple, so don’t think of it as a test to be passed. Think of it as a conversation you’re having to determine whether you are the right person to move on in the process.
Send a Follow-Up
Within 24 hours of your phone interview, send the interviewer a follow-up email thanking them for taking the time to talk to you. You can also use this opportunity to provide them with any other useful information, or ask if they need anything else from you. Not only is this a practical step, it helps cement you in the mind of the interviewer as someone who is truly interested in the position and wants to pursue the role further.
Land Your Next Interview with the Help of The AGA Group
Are you on the hunt for a new job? Struggling to find interviews where you can shine? Turn to the staffing professionals who can help – The AGA Group can take your job search to the next level and help you grow your career.
Our staffing firm’s recruitment experts will take the time to get to know you and your qualifications and experience. That way, we can match you with interviews for roles that you are uniquely qualified for. To get started, contact a member of our recruiting team.