Phone interviews are a different ball game to face-to-face interviews. Mainly because any silence is awkward and you cannot read the interviewer’s facial expression or reactions (nor can they yours), as well as more minor facets such as not being able to mention a shared common interest that they display in their office, such as a favourite football team or holiday destination.

Many people believe that phone interviews are better than in-person interviews because you can remain in bed, or at least in more comfortable attire than a suit and tie. Never overlook the fact though that the single most important part of any interview is the answers that you give, so you need to be just as prepared as a traditional interview. Plus, your voice needs to portray, alone, the professional image that your clothing would help to do in person.

You may or may not have had a phone interview in the past, but if you are applying for jobs nowadays then it is more likely you will have one, as they are much more common than they once were. Part of this is because they are, obviously, far quicker and easier for screening candidates in the initial stages of recruiting new employees. If, for example, an applicant cannot form a coherent sentence, litters their responses with expletives, or just has no clue how the business operates or what it does, it is a safe bet they are not an ideal fit for the job. A recruiter can remove that person from the applicant pile within two minutes, rather than setting aside a chunk of time for a face-to-face interview.

So how do you ace this interview to secure an in-person interview afterwards? Firstly, do not agree to the interview if it is not convenient; the interviewer will ask if now is a good time, and if you are doing your shopping, sitting on the toilet or rushing around doing errands then you will not be thinking clearly and thus will not be able to answer the questions as properly as you should. So be honest, say no and suggest a convenient time. If you are doing it on a mobile, ensure it is charged up, and make sure you will not be disturbed during the call.

You also want to have relevant information on hand, such as your CV and the job listing, as well as any notes you have made. Notes should include what the company does, why you want to work for them, what you like, why you want to change jobs, and so on. It is good to have them written down so you do not get flustered and forget important details – a luxury afforded to you by a phone interview. You may also want to consider using a headset, as you can then use your hands to take down further notes; trying to balance the phone between your ear and shoulder risks pushing the ‘end call’ button or making you sound disorganised and confused – which could put your application in jeopardy.

Smile. Sure they can not see you, but smiling will make you feel more relaxed, confident and assertive. Be aware that a phone interview may be more rigid and less spontaneous than a face-to-face interview – the recruiter will want to breeze through them quickly, and if they have 10 questions with a check list you will have trouble making it a two-way engagement. Therefore, prompt favourable feelings by asking things like, “Would you like me to go into more detail?”

Finally, ensure you sound enthusiastic, but not too much. Don’t blurt out answers or sound flustered – pace yourself, so your responses are timed well and spoken at a good speed, not so fast that they can not understand you. When the questions are over, thank the interviewer for their time, ask if you can provide any more information, and ask what the next steps are.

Author's Bio: 

Sarah Jacob is editor in chief at EmptyLemon, one of the UK's leading IT jobs boards.