A phone interview would seem preferable to a standard job interview because you can do it from the comfort of your own home. In reality, they can be less ideal for one simple reason: It’s hard to stand out when all you have is your voice.
During an in-person interview at a nonprofit, you can impress hiring managers with both your words and your charisma. With phone interviews you are more limited, and you also have to worry about bad connections and background noises, making for a potentially challenging experience.
Technical issues aside, there are ways you can make this type of interview work for you:
- Use Notes: One of the great things about a phone interview is you can look down at your interview notes if you get stumped. Don’t be afraid to do this, but don’t completely rely on them either. Reading solely from prepared remarks will make you sound scripted.
- Practice: Do a mock phone interview with a friend or family member so they can give you feedback on how your voice sounds. Do you need to speak louder? Are you mumbling? These are all things that your mock interview partner will be able to tell you.
- Watch Your Language: Speak slowly, clearly and, most important of all, eliminate the use of slang. It can be easy to slip into more informal language when talking on the phone.
- Be Thoughtful: Don’t be afraid to pause for a moment if you don’t immediately know the answer to a question. A few seconds of awkward silence are preferable to answers that have lots of “ums.”
Assuming the phone interview goes well enough, you should ask the hiring manager if you can arrange an in-person meeting at some point. Say something along the lines of “Would it be possible for us to meet face-to-face so we can continue this conversation? I’d love to have the opportunity to meet you and see the organization in-person.” If you get no for an answer, make sure to inquire about what the next steps process will be.