For decades, interviewing for a job meant going on-site and sitting down for a face-to-face chat. But now, initial interviews are often conducted voice-to-voice on the phone or screen-to-screen via video chat, especially for UX job applicants. Excelling at these situations requires a different approach.

Focus on your voice

In-person interviews present the interviewer with a fully realized human being, but when you are doing a phone interview, the interviewer’s only criteria for judgement is a disembodied voice.

To start with, ask the interviewer if they can hear you clearly. It immediately conveys empathy, and clearing up any simple technological issues should be done right away. Also, pay close attention to the level of enthusiasm and engagement in your voice. What emotions are your conveying? Your voice is the only sensory cue that the interviewer has during a phone interview, and you don’t want to be passed over simply because the interviewer either couldn’t hear you or perceived a lack of interest. If the interview is conducted via video chat, make sure the setting is professional (no posters that read “Keep calm and party hard” behind you). Make sure your lighting is soft and flattering. And wear appropriate attire (no t-shirts that read “Keep calm and party harder than the poster behind me”).

Research the role and the company

Next, it is important to be thorough in your research prior to the phone interview. Learn everything you can about the company, its mission, and the position. This will mean diving into the company website, as well as anything your recruiter has provided. But don’t stop there. Think about why you are uniquely qualified for the position as well as why your experiences, interests, and passions make you the ideal candidate to help further the company’s larger purpose.

If you know who will be interviewing you, look at their LInkedIn profile to get a sense of who they are as a professional. Don’t go poking around Facebook or other platforms, as you don’t want to overly personalize the interview in any way. 

Finally, be armed with thoughtful questions. You can ask about the problems they are trying to solve with this position, or you can inquire about specific product-related issues, such as  challenges they’re facing with the user. Regardless of what you ask, make sure your queries are genuine; because if you open lines of inquiry, you need to be prepared to engage enthusiastically and authoritatively.

Tell your story

This point of the interview is your opportunity to tell the interviewer how your experience, your interests, and what you’ve done as a UX designer relate to what they are looking for. Provide the story of at least one project that you can discuss in a detailed yet concise manner. Prepare a cohesive narrative: the problem you faced, the work you did to solve the problem, the solution you devised, the final result, and what lessons you learned that you could apply to your next project.

Close strong

The closing is often overlooked by interviewees. Toward the end of your interview (always respect the amount of time allotted for the interview) ask the interviewer if they have any additional questions for you, and ask what to expect for next steps. State your interest in the position and thank them for their time.

Finally, ask permission to send them any further questions or thoughts you have, should they arise. Even if you don’t have additional questions, you will need their email address to send them a brief, personalized email that conveys your appreciation for their time, your excitement about the position, and your willingness to address any concerns or answer any further questions.

When you’re well prepared and you march forth with confidence, success will meet you halfway. Happy hunting.

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