Getting a phone interview with a prospective employer is a great first step in landing your next job.
Although most phone interviews are fairly short (anywhere from 5-15min is perfectly normal), there is often a lot riding on the call — after all, a phone interview is essentially an audition from an in-person interview, so you want to make sure it goes well.
The problem? A lot of people can get nervous for a phone interview, or just aren’t comfortable in that environment. Fortunately, the easy solution here is to create what we call a phone interview cheat sheet.
The Phone Interview Cheat Sheet
A phone interview cheat sheet is basically a one-page document (hand-written or typed out) that includes all of the important information you’ll need for your phone call. It is kind of like a variation of your resume made only for your eyes and only for this specific phone interview.
The typical cheat sheet will include some notes on yourself (job history, education, etc.), notes on the position (duties, qualifications, etc.), and any questions you may have for the interviewer. During the call, you can be referencing your cheat sheet to make sure you stay on topic, share accurate information, and remember to ask the questions that you have.
Here’s how you can make the ultimate phone interview cheat sheet to make sure you nail your next phone interview!
1) Consider the Questions You’ll Be Asked
Most phone interviews are designed to (briefly) get to know the candidate and make sure there are no glaring reasons to not invite them in for an interview. Knowing this, these phone calls often follow a similar rhythm, like this:
a) Introduction: Interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself.
b) Job Description: Interviewer shares the basic role and duties of this role.
c) Qualification Questions: Interviewer asks a few basic questions about your qualification.
d) Candidate Questions: Interviewer opens the floor for any questions you may have.
e) Next Steps: Interviewer either asks to schedule an in-person interview or says they’ll follow up soon.
When you start making your cheat sheet, you can begin with notes for each of these sections. For example, if you know that they will ask you to tell them about yourself, it’s often helpful to have 3-5 bullet points written out. That way, you don’t go off on a long tangent about your favorite movie or your childhood dog’s name; instead, you are clear, concise, and well-organized, which is always noticed.
2) Summarize the Position
You can also include bullets on the job description and position qualifications, for reference. As the interviewer asks you any questions about your experience or work history, you can look at your cheat sheet and draw your answers from the notes you have. For example, if one of the qualifications for the position is familiarity with a certain tool or program that you have used, share that information with the interviewer.
Typically, the best phone interview cheat sheets will include 3-5 bullets for each the duties/responsibilities and the qualifications sections.
3) Add Your Own Questions
99% of the time, interviewers turn the floor over to the candidate during the call, allowing you to ask any questions about the position or process that you may have. One of the big “no-no’s” of the interview process is not having anything to ask, as this can either show a lack of interest or awareness on your part.
So, to make sure you are prepared, use your cheat sheet as a place to include a few questions about the opportunity. Specifically, you could have three types of questions:
a) Questions about the business/organization’s history, products, services, culture, or future
b) Questions about the specific role and/or job duties
c) Questions about the interview process, like next steps and timelines
Of course, some (if not all) of your questions may be answered by the interviewer while they fill you in on the company and role, and that’s OK. If this happens, just politely let them know that they answered all of your questions — and, to show that you really did have questions, let them know how they helped. For example, if your question was about company culture, and they previously shared what it’s like to be in the office, it’s OK to let them know, “I was really interested in your company’s culture and the information you provided helped a lot.”
4) Include Logistics
Finally, an important piece of any phone interview cheat sheet is the logistics: things like the interviewer’s name, company name, job title, and even the interviewer’s email address (to remind yourself to send a thank you email after the call).
It may sound too obvious, but candidates can forget the name of their interviewer sometimes, so keeping it big and bold at the top of your cheat sheet is a must. Or, something else that happens more than it should, is candidates can forget which job they are talking about, especially when they are going through phone calls and interviews for multiple positions.
Keep it simple and stay on track by writing out the logistics of the interview and the position.
There you have it! Using the above tips, you can craft the perfect phone interview cheat sheet for your next call. If you’d like some additional resource on prepping for your interview, check out our Ultimate Interview Prep Guide!
Or, if you’d like to work with a Milwaukee area staffing agency, tell us about yourself here!