March 20, 2013

How to Prepare for a Phone Interview: Be Ready

When it comes to interviews for an internship position there are generally two different scenarios that you are like to encounter: a phone interview or an in-person interview. Both essentially have the same goal and can help to get you one step closer to getting an internship. However, phone interviews tend to come first and are more likely to catch you off guard - a good way to wind up nervous and flustered. So, here's some advice on how to deal and how to be prepared for a phone interview. This will probably be your first interview experience. According to CNN.com, companies often use phone interviews to help narrow down candidates and the first five minutes of the call are the most important part. So, to help you make a good impression, here's the first in a new mini-series on how to prepare for a phone interview.
By Holger.Ellgaard (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Be Ready 

You should, ideally, be prepared for a phone interview immediately after submitting your application. That's not to say you need to know ever That's not to say you need to know every single detail about the company and craft perfect responses to obscure questions but, many screening interviews happen when you least expect it. For instance, you're on your way to the gym and your phone rings with a number you don't recognize and the person on the other end says something like "This so-and-so from company-you-really-want-to-work-for I have a few questions for you, is this a good time?" If you're really in a situation where you can't talk, then be honest and say it because there's no benefit to talking if you're somewhere where it's loud or you'll be distracted or you're rushing to class. But, to be honest, there have been times where I missed a call from a company I applied to only to never hear from them again (after all, like in The Devil Wears Prada, a million girls - and guys- would kill for this job so if you don't answer and your potential boss doesn't want to wait they can just call the next person). Then again, if that happens, they may not have the best work environment anyway. Fortunately, with the reliance on email, it does seem to be more common that phone interviews are scheduled in advance via email. If you have scheduled a phone interview in advance, use it as an opportunity to prepare by doing the following:

  • Think of some questions you would like to ask
  • Have your resume handy for reference
  • Make some notes on the company and have them handy,
  • Consider making a list of any key points you'd like to make
  • Determine what days and times you would be available for an in-person interview
  • Determine when you are available to start and end an internship
  • Practice answers to some common interview questions
  • Know why you want to work there
  • For a music company, know answers to questions like the last records you bought, the last shows you went to, an up-and-coming musician you like, why you want to work in music, and other similar music questions
  • Pick a place where you will feel comfortable but not be distracted to go during your interview