Think back to the first time you interviewed for a job. You likely met with a hiring manager or your future boss in person, be it at an office, store, restaurant, or other location. You could see and engage with the other person without too much trouble. However, as the workplace continues to evolve, so too does the interview process.

Nowadays, companies recruit candidates from all over the world. You may interview ten people for a position without ever meeting any of them in person, transcribing notes as they share answers with you virtually over the phone.

That adds some flexibility to the interview, but it also presents its own unique challenges. During an in-person interview, there are a number of non-verbal cues you can pick up on. You can read body language, see how the candidate reacts to what you’re saying, and even identify what’s happening during a pause. Those non-verbal behaviors aren’t visible during a phone interview.

You can still nail how to conduct a phone interview by following the phone meeting tips below. These techniques will help you start even if you’ve never conducted a phone interview before, or they’ll help you hone a skill you can continue to improve throughout your career.

Prepare Before the Phone Meeting

Any job candidate worth their salt will spend time preparing for an interview. In fact, they’ll likely spend hours researching the company and its culture, practicing their talking points, and reviewing the job description. You owe it to them to put in the same effort as an interviewer. Prepare an agenda for the meeting, including questions that uncover the experience of the job candidate, both within the industry and specific to your needs. Be sure to jot down any dates or important need-to-know info for your candidates and leave ample space for taking notes. 

Pick the Right Room for Clarity

In Hollywood, plenty of movies feature a phone call where one person is on a busy street, in a noisy subway car, or at a loud arena. There’s never any back and forth where the characters ask each other to repeat themselves or complain that they can’t hear what the other is saying. It’s understandable why those parts aren’t included – they wouldn’t make for entertaining viewing. In reality, though, that call would be a nightmare!

Don’t let your phone call experience the same pitfall. Pick a room that’s quiet and away from high-traffic areas. Select a spot where there’s room to comfortable take notes, a general overall low volume, and remember to turn off or silence any electronic devices to minimize distractions.

Identify the Specific Purpose of the Phone Meeting or Interview

Each phone meeting or interview needs a specific purpose – a set “ask” that you want to accomplish. If you’re new to figuring out how to conduct a phone interview or meeting, this is the perfect place to start. State the purpose of the meeting at the beginning of the call; don’t assume everyone knows why they’re in attendance.

An agenda is a useful tool, as well. It helps people budget for time, bring up specific talking points, and keeps them from veering too far away from the call’s objective. At the end of a meeting, do a quick recap and set next steps so everyone feels like the meeting had value and they’re confident in their marching orders. In a job interview, interviewees appreciate having the meeting goals and agenda explained to them, which lets them know what to expect and can calm their nerves.

Listen Actively

Always listen actively during meetings and interviews. You’ll never know when someone will say a key point that really resonates or triggers another thought. It’s tempting to furiously scribble notes to keep up with everything being said, but the delay of taking notes can cause you to miss quite a bit of the conversation.

It’s much more natural to use a call recorder to record the conversation and revisit the important points later on. For your next two interviews or meetings, try jotting down notes and recording the call. See which one is more effective for your process – chances are you’ll likely never go back to the old-fashioned way of taking notes.

Ask Questions Thoughtfully

While you certainly want to prepare talking points ahead of time, your interview and meetings will be far more productive if you also ask thoughtful questions based on what you hear. However, if you’re not listening carefully, it’s incredibly difficult to develop those questions that will reveal the important information. If you really want your candidate to walk away impressed with how to conduct a phone interview, leave room for organic questions inspired by the phone interview. It’ll also provide you with a more thorough insight into the interviewee.

Be careful about asking too many questions very early or late in the call. If you bombard your interviewee with five questions as soon as they hop on the phone, they might feel overwhelmed. On the other hand, waiting until the end of the call to ask several questions may cause the interviewee to feel rushed or disappointed because they couldn’t provide all the necessary information. You don’t want an interview to end on a sour note because of poorly timed questions.

Balance the Phone Interview

In addition to keeping track of what’s being said, you should also be mindful of who’s saying it. Whether it’s a meeting or an interview, the host should know how much each person is talking. A successful call allows space for everyone to offer their insights without any worry. An interviewee needs to know as much about your company, just as you want to know about their experience. Not being available for questions could ruin the whole results of the phone interview. A few quick phone meeting tips that will help the flow of the call:

  • Write down any facts and figures that get referenced, then return to them later in the call. This gives an opportunity for a person to dive deeper into what they’re saying.
  • Provide company information based on what motivates the candidate. If they express an interest in company culture, for instance, be sure to cover that more extensively during your call.
  • Keep a scorecard of candidates to help maintain objectivity. If some end up speaking longer than others, be sure to still allow time for the interviewee to ask any questions they may have.

Other Resources for Conducting Phone Interviews and Conference Calls

Now that you know how to conduct a phone interview, you need to arm yourself with the right tools. Rather than trying to do it all yourself, you can give Rev a try to see how to transcribe phone calls quickly, easily, and accurately. Not only will you save a tremendous amount of time, you’ll be able to be fully present in the interview or meeting because you won’t be focused on jotting down notes. Check out Rev today and learn how audio transcription will improve your phone interviews and meetings.