By Heather Huhman
Have you ever had a hiring manager call you and ask if you're available for a phone interview right now? Sometimes interviews sneak up on you – literally.
Phone interviews are commonly used by hiring managers to contact job candidates who aren't local. But, it's not always about location. Employers frequently use the phone interview to conduct a pre-screening for the job, answer resume questions, and establish your basic qualifications and company fit.
Whether you're asked to interview on the spot or in less than 24 hours, don't panic! Before you stumble over your words or become flustered, there are a few tips that will prepare you for a last-minute phone interview:
1. Identify the best and the worst of your resume. The first thing you should do to prepare for a last-minute interview is collect your thoughts. This employer is obviously interested in you and possibly on a strict deadline, which is great news for you. However, you need to determine what job experiences and skills are most relevant to discuss with this employer.
So, take a look at your resume. If you're afforded enough time, jot down two or three experiences and skills you'd like to highlight during your interview. Also, highlight weaknesses in your resume (that you can hopefully turn into a strength). This will help you answer questions with more confidence and detail.
2. Perform a quick search online of the company. Hopefully you're already familiar with the company that just gave you a call. But, if you somehow haven't done your homework yet, do a quick search online. If possible, jot down the company's main purpose and values and at least one relevant case study or work example on their website. Also, perform a quick LinkedIn search of the company to see if you're connected with any insiders.
3. Clear your mind. The true ploy of a last-minute interview is to gauge your ability to think on your feet. So don't let your nerves or lack of preparation get the best of you. If you don't know everything about the company or don't have questions prepared for the interviewer, it's not the end of the world. Focus on first impressions and detailing why you're the best fit for the job.
If you're truly unprepared for an on-the-spot interview request, ask if you can schedule an interview for the next day. Hiring managers can't expect you to automatically be free for an interview without prior notice, so if you aren't available, just say so!
Have you ever been interviewed last minute? How did you prepare for the interview?
Heather R. Huhman is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.