Telephone and smartphone interviews are a lot more common these days than they used to be – mainly because many employers know that it is a quick and inexpensive way to effectively screen candidates and narrow down the number. Successful candidates are then invited for a second interview, in person; although on fewer occasions, successful candidates get the job right away, without a second interview!
As an applicant, the goal of a telephone interview is to secure an invitation to come to the employer’s location for an in-person interview. You typically have just two assets for telephone interviews – your voice and your preparation! You have to accomplish your goal – selling yourself, your skills, your experience, and your value – with nothing but what comes out of your mouth.
Be Prepared… and This Includes Competitive Career Training
Prepare for a phone interview just as you would for a regular in-person interview. Do a bit of research on the company and make sure to review the job description before the interview, just as you would for an in-person interview. Have the documentation you need at your fingertips. Compile a list of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as a list of answers to typical phone interview questions.Take the time to match your qualifications to the job description, so you can speak to why you’re a strong candidate for the position. Review your resume, as well. Know when you held each job, and what your responsibilities were. You should feel comfortable and ready to discuss your background and skills confidently during a phone conversation. In addition, have a list of questions ready to ask the interviewer.
Take Advantage of the “Invisibility”
Phone interviews are like open-book tests. You can have all the documents you need at your fingertips, from your own CV to the job listing and the company’s official website. You can even quickly Google the questions for the best answers! This gives you a pointed advantage when it comes to crafting informed answers. Take full advantage of it.
Optimize the Surrounding
Know whether you can take the call when it comes. If it is possible, you can schedule the call for a time when you are comfortable, focused and unlikely to be interrupted (or overheard). If you currently have a job, preferably do NOT take this call in your workplace! Your boss or a co-worker may interrupt and may also discover your job search. If you’re at home, clear the room. Evict the kids and the pets. Turn off the stereo and the TV. Close the door.
Have your pen and paper or tablet or computer around and take notes. As much as possible, take notes during and immediately after the call. During the interview, focus on giving good answers but you can write most of the notes immediately after the call. Note the date and time of the call. Note the name and job title of the person who called. If they don’t volunteer it, ask, and confirm the correct spelling of their name. Write down any commitments you make for after the call. Note anything about you that seemed particularly important to them, indicated by the interviewer asking you several follow-on questions about that topic, as well as anything about you that seemed to disappoint them. Write any information about “what next”.
Proper Phone Interview Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts
During the Phone Interview:
- Don’t smoke, chew gum, eat, or drink.
- Do keep a glass of water handy, in case you need to wet your mouth.
- Do smile – Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice. It can also be helpful to stand during the interview, since this typically gives your voice more energy and enthusiasm.
- Do speak slowly and make clear pronunciation.
- Do use the person’s title (Mr. or Ms. and their last name.) Only use their first name if they ask you to. Otherwise, use the formal title.
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer. Listen carefully to the interviewer and don’t start speaking until the interviewer finishes the question. If you have something you want to say, jot it down on your notepad and mention it when it’s your turn to talk.
- Do take your time. Don’t worry if you need a few seconds to think of a response – it’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts, but don’t leave too much dead air. If you need the interviewer to repeat the question, ask.
Don’t Forget to Make Arrangement for Follow-up
Don’t hang up without asking for the next step. If the interviewer is bringing the call to an end but there has been no talk of a next step, speak up! Express your enthusiasm for moving forward and ask about the next step. Ask for the best method for staying in touch, and make suggestions such as sending an email. If an in-person interview is not scheduled at the end of the call, find out when you can follow up with the employer. Be sure to ask for contact information (name, phone number, job title, and email address) of the person who will be your contact. And a day or two after your interview, send an email to your interviewer thanking them for the opportunity and reiterating why you feel like a confident fit.