How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

After posting Andrew Brown, looking for summer ’11 internship on Quora almost two weeks ago, I’ve been approached by many extremely interesting and knowledgable people from a wide range of companies.

Fortunately for me (living in Missouri—not in California, where most of the companies were located), everyone suggested phone interviews. I’d only ever done in-person interviews before, so I set out to ask friends and the Internet for suggestions. Hours of preparation and a couple handfuls of interviews later, I’ve come up with some generic tips for those of you out there that are preparing for phone interviews just as I did.

So here they are, in no particular order.

  • Smile. You can tell it in someone’s voice when they’re smiling, and it’ll show you’re a nice, friendly person.
  • Gather up anything you might need in the interview beforehand. This includes your resume, paper for jotting down notes, emails you might refer to, any questions you’ve already written, etc.
  • Pace yourself. If you’re nervous and you’re like me, you probably talk fast. Make a conscious decision to slow down, and you’ll have time to collect your thoughts and will bumble around less often.
  • Charge your phone beforehand. This is kind of a no-brainer, but can easily be overlooked. If you can’t charge your phone fully or expect areally long interview, be sure to have a charger on hand so you can plug in while talking if need be.
  • Quiet your environment. Turn off Pandora, tell the people you live with that you’re about to have an important interview, lock your door–whatever needs done. You want your room quiet so you can give your interviewer your full attention.
  • Sleep well beforehand. You want to be well rested and chipper when they call. You’ll perform better, I promise.
  • Re-read any correspondence you’ve had with your interviewer previously. Re-read emails and messages to make sure they didn’t say something you’ve missed. You might be able to refer back to something they said, which impresses most people.
  • Research the company. This is another no-brainer. Read up on the company. Visit their website, join their forums, read their About Us, install their product, look for reviews online, search them on CrunchBase–whatever. The more information you have about them, the better, that’s why informative websites are so important and that’s why people invest in marketing which you can get from sites as that offer these services.
  • Come up with questions beforehand. Determine what’s important to you in where you want to work. For me, a big thing is the atmosphere, so asking how many people work there, whether they planned on hiring more soon, how many interns are expected, how often they pump out new updates, etc., all gave me more information.
  • Talk to people. Luckily for me, Quora has allowed me to interact with some exceptionally smart people, whose experience and opinions are invaluable. Reach out to people you know beforehand and tell them, “Hey, I’m doing this interview; how do you think I should prepare?” If nothing else (and even if they know nothing about the company), another brain for storming is a great resource to have.
  • Anticipate questions and practice beforehandFriends come in handy again here, too. Especially if you’re a quieter person, you should have a friend call you up and test your interview skills.
  • Don’t jump on board the first company to make you an offer. Companies want the best intern for themselves; but you want the best company for your internship. At least wait until you’ve heard back from all your interviews before committing to one.

I’m fairly certain today’s interview was my last one, but it’s possible someone else might show up unexpectedly. As of right now, I’m waiting to hear back from everyone before making my decision.

To everyone I subtly name-dropped in this Post, thank you very much for your support. To everyone who has extended an offer or interviewed with me, thank you very much for your interest. To everyone else, thank you for reading!

If anyone has any other tips for interviews, I’d love to hear them (and I’m sure anyone who stumbles upon this in the future would love to hear them) in the comments! :)

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