Acing the Job Interview: What to Do When HR Calls You

Career Guide October 5, 2018

Acing the Job Interview: What to Do When HR Calls You

Job application is a game of chance, and something as simple as a phone interview can make or break your chances of getting employment. Acing a phone call from the HR shouldn’t be rocket science – here are some tips that might help you do just that.

Always be prepared

Job interviews can happen on schedule or on a whim. Some organisations may notify in advance, while others can just surprise you. It pays to be prepared regardless.

According to Jake Ma, one of Orbium’s HR Advisors in Singapore: “Acing phone interview is no rocket science. It’s always good to prepare prior to the actual interview, which will increase the chance of being shortlisted for a face to face interview. Some preparation to do before the actual call will be to find out who will be interviewing you for the call.”

Before sending in your application, check if your qualifications match the job description. You’ll have an easier time talking about yourself if you know you’re a strong candidate for the post. If this is your first job, then delve deeper into the job role. The more you know about the position, the better the chances you can relate your qualifications or skills. Even without the background, you can back up your eligibility for the job.

As Jake adds: “Always read up about the organisation that you are applying to. Interviewers like to know that you tried to try to understand what the organisation’s nature of business is, it’s fine not to be 100% sure as that’s where you could find out more from the interviewer.”

Practice makes perfect

Yes, we might be used to talking on the phone, but it’s not as easy when it’s a job interview. Employers will want to get to know you. As the adage goes, practice makes perfect.

You can prepare an in-person interview or list questions you think might crop up during the meeting. Practicing will help you see if you have verbal ticks or any problems with pronunciation. Talk about details in your resume during practice. According to our Senior HR Advisor in Frankfurt, Stefanie Gosen, talking slowly should help do the trick. Have a recording during your practice so you can have a post-game analysis.

Phone interview checklist

There are some things you need to prepare in advance much more than research. Some things to tick off:

  • job posting and qualification checklist – you can walk through matching your skills and the job well with these
  • pen and paper for note taking/phone or computer if applicable
  • A quiet space for talking the call – loud or noisy environments won’t do, nor will spaces with lots of distractions

As for handling the actual interview, here are some dos and don’ts:

  • Do use the title of the person (Mr., Ms. plus their last name) – only go for first name basis if they allow you to or initiate it
  • Don’t eat or drink or chew anything during the call.
  • Do keep a glass of water – for cases your throat suddenly tickles, or you feel a cough
  • Do pause and think about the question before answering – take your time so you can explain better
  • Don’t interrupt the interview
  • Do ask the interview questions – they’re there to clarify things about the organisation as well

Ultimately, Jake suggests: “More than that, try to feel enthusiastic during the call rather than a robot, no one wants to hire a robot into their organisation. Try your best to give short and straight forward answer and avoid beating the bushes”.

As the interview ends, thank the interviewer. Ask for their contact details if you don’t have it. This will come in handy when expressing your appreciation for the call and your interest on the job. Review your notes and study the details of the call. These may help you find an opportunity if you get the second-round of interview or any future interviews.