In some ways, phone interviews can be more stressful than in-person interviews — after all, you only get one shot to make a first impression. But phone interviews do have one major advantage over in-person interviews: The recruiter can’t see you, so they’ll be none the wiser if you need a little help from a cheat sheet.
If you ever had a teacher or professor who let you bring an index card filled with notes to your final exam, the principle’s much the same. Just write down a few talking points and anecdotes that will help jog your memory when faced with a tricky question.
To get you started, we came up with a cheat sheet with fields for all of the information you’ll need on hand to ace your next phone interview. Download it now, and read on for a breakdown of how to use it!
About the Company
In this portion, you’ll fill out the most relevant high-level company information: their mission, the products and services they offer, the name of the CEO, notes on the culture and any recent news or updates on the company, such as an acquisition or the launch of a new product offering. You might be wondering: Why is this so important to know?
Well, for one, each of these questions is completely fair game for an interviewer to ask. Interviewers often want to make sure that candidates care enough about an opportunity at a company to do some research on it, so if you can’t name the CEO or the products a company offers, you might just be disqualified. But for another, this will also help you craft intelligent questions to ask your interviewer — more on that later!
In this section, you’ll jot down relevant information about yourself, including a brief elevator pitch, your relevant experience, strengths, weaknesses and why you are interested in this particular role/company. In a phone interview, recruiters are just getting to know you, so this high-level information will almost certainly be the basis for several of their questions. With a quick glance down at this section, you’ll be able to handle nearly any introductory question a recruiter throws your way!
Questions for the Company
At some point or another, interviewers almost always give you an opportunity to ask them a few questions. This might make you nervous, but don’t worry — it’s not a trick! In fact, it’s a gift. Not only does this give you the opportunity to understand the company and the position on a deeper level, but you can also use your research on the company to help you ask intelligent questions that show off what an informed candidate you are.
Asking a question like “How does your mission of X manifest itself on a daily basis?” or “How does your newly-launched mobile app fit into your five-year business plan?” will prove that you’re invested in the opportunity and a critical thinker who does their homework.
Questions to Prepare for
Between the previous three sections, you should be ready to answer most of the questions that come your way — but there’s one tricky subset of interview questions you should still prepare for: behavioral interview questions. Behavioral interview questions ask you to share stories from your work experience, such as “Tell me about a time you made a mistake,” or “Tell me about a time you went above and beyond the requirements of a project.”
Behavioral questions are among the most difficult to answer on the spot, since they require you to rack your brain to think of a relevant example. Luckily, all you need to do to eliminate that awkward silence is list out a few anecdotes you can share in advance. Pro tip: Write in bullet points, not full sentences — you don’t want to sound too rehearsed and robotic!
The next time you have a phone interview, don’t be intimidated — all it takes is a little preparation beforehand. With your filled-out cheat sheet by your side, you’ll have nothing to worry about and everything to look forward to!