If you ask employers how often they conduct phone interviews, 57 percent of them will say very often. Aside from being convenient and easy to do, these types of interviews clue them in on three things:
- How available you are
- How you present yourself no matter the mode of communication
- Whether you’re someone worth the time and effort to interview in person
That’s why, even if phone interviews require only your voice, it’s important to prepare for them as thoroughly as you can. If you’re looking for telephone job interview tips, here they are.
1. Set up Your “Interview Room”
Your physical surroundings can affect your mindset throughout the interview. If the room is a mess, you’ll also feel stressed. But if it’s neat, open and a generally pleasant place to stay in for at least an hour, it’s easier to relax and sound confident for the interviewer.
So give yourself time to set up the room. Clear away the clutter. Open the windows to let in just the right amount of natural light. Soundproof your walls. If you think you can’t have an interview where the phone is — because it’s noisy, uncomfortable, etc. — check if you can move the phone to a more comfortable place. That way, you won’t get distracted, and neither will your interviewer.
2. Dress for Success
As strange as it sounds, wearing a suit can make a lot of difference, even for a phone interview. That’s because suits psyche you up, and even help you improve your abstract thinking skills. So put your best suit on, pick up the phone and smile!
You know those moments when you can “hear” someone smiling or frowning over the phone? Interviewers can hear that, too. That’s why it’s important to smile, because it makes you sound warmer and friendlier. Plus, it’s an instant mood-booster in case you happened to be having a bad time prior to the interview. Or just have pre-interview jitters.
4. Introduce Yourself Quickly and Politely
Of course, when you pick up the phone, there’s a chance the person on the other end isn’t the one you’re expecting. If it turns out to be a telemarketer, for example, it’s tempting to hang up after a quick “Hello.”
However, if you’re expecting a call from a recruiter, a trite answer wouldn’t exactly be good phone interview advice, would it?
Instead, say something like “Hello, (your name) speaking, how may I help you?” Aside from confirming your identity to the person on the other end, you’re also giving them an opening for a conversation — which is what an interview basically is.
Remember, recruiters spend only 5 to 7 seconds looking at a resume, so you’ll have to talk a lot to fill in those gaps.
5. Be Enthusiastic
Once the interviewer confirms their identity, show them you’re excited for the interview by saying one of the following, depending on the context.
- “Thanks so much for calling! I’d love to learn more about this position.”
- “I’ve heard a lot of good things about your company!”
- “So good to hear from you! Could you hold the line for just one moment while I get to somewhere quieter?”
Use your voice to sound genuinely happy that they’ve called. Smile when talking, they’ll hear it. If you do need to get to a quiet place — especially if the call was unscheduled — don’t make your interviewer wait long. Most employers are pretty reasonable and understanding about the fact, as long as you make every effort to show you’ll accommodate them. If you’re just in the other room, simply ask “How are you?” to give you a few seconds to get there.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Use “Cheat Sheets”
Since your interviewer can’t see you, why not use cue cards? You can write down answers to common interview questions, and reference them instead of stumbling with an “Uhh” or “Ahh.”
Just make sure you arrange the cards in a way you can pluck out the answer you need within seconds. Perhaps typing them up in a Word Doc and using the “find” function to quickly locate your notes.
7. But Practice and Prepare Beforehand
Even if you use cue cards, you’ll still want to practice with them anyway. After all, you want to sound spontaneous and energetic, rather than stiff and monotonous. If you’re shuffling your cards every now and then, sharp-eared interviewers will notice.
Also, you want to be prepared in case Murphy’s Law takes effect. Your phone line might go dead, your dog might decide to start barking at the neighbors, or someone might decide to construct a new building right in front of your house on Interview Day. Make sure you have a backup plan in case these things happen.
8. Ask Smart Questions
Once the interview’s about to end, there’s a good chance an employer will ask “Do you have any questions for me?” Show them you’ve done your homework by asking smart questions like:
- “What qualities do your most successful employees have?”
- “How does my job fit in with the company’s goals?”
- “Is there anything else you’d like to know about my qualifications?”
Notice how all these questions are focused on what you can do for the employer. If you keep that in mind, it’s hard to trip up this part.
… And Avoid Self-Focused Questions
On the other hand, there are questions you shouldn’t ask at this stage in the interview process. For example:
- “What’s this job about?”
- “I’m interviewing with two companies, what’s yours do?”
- “What’s the salary?”
If you have questions about the benefits, save them when you’re a step away from the job offer. Otherwise, the interviewer will think you’re more interested in what the job can do for you, rather than the other way around. And even if that’s the case, it’s never a good idea to be so obvious about it.
9. Remember to Thank the Interviewer
One last (and very important) phone interview tip: Nothing leaves an impression quite like a thank-you note. If you want to send one to the interviewer, do it as soon as you can.
Do a little digging about the interviewer’s contact details, craft the best post-interview letter you can think of, and hit “Send.” Seventy-six percent of interviewers say receiving a thank you is very or somewhat important in their decision-making process, so get to it.
What would you add to this list of phone interview tips? Share your advice in the comments!
In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to the Punched Clocks newsletter for tips, tricks and everything interview-related.
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