As more hiring managers are pressed for time, phone interviews have become commonplace as an initial screening for candidates. While not fighting traffic and interviewing from the comforts of home sound amazing, there are some downsides to the phone interview. You won’t be able to rely on visual cues or exude professionalism with your appearance. So, how do you prepare? Here are some tips to make sure your phone interview leads to a face-to-face:
Can you hear me now?
There’s nothing more annoying than dropped calls. If you’re planning to use your cell phone, make sure that your battery is fully charged and you are in an area with good reception. Even moving from one room to another in the same house can make all the difference. If you have a smartphone, make sure you turn off your notifications for the duration of the interview. You don’t want to get distracted with personal text messages or email notifications. Additionally, turning on your “do not disturb” setting will avoid interruptions by incoming calls.
Be serious, yet, positive
Don’t underestimate the phone interview, it might be your only shot at the job. Some candidates find standing to be empowering. But if that makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, just sit up straight. Regardless of which technique works for you, be confident. Go beyond the traditional “hello” when greet your interviewer. Business guru Brent Peterson suggests you start the call by saying “Hello, this is [your name]” or “Hi [interviewer]. It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.” By stating your name or the interviewer’s name, you put the interviewer at ease that they have reached the right person and that you are ready to talk. Keep this positive momentum going: unclench your fists, relax your facial muscles and put on a natural smile.
Say it like to you mean it
During an in person interview, tripping over your words or speaking over the interviewer may not be as noticeable. You don’t have this luxury over the phone. Answer questions directly and elaborate when necessary without being long-winded. A good rule of thumb is keeping responses to under two minutes. Don’t “confuse the interviewer’s silence…as an invitation to keep talking,” advises UNC-Chapel Hill career services director Jeff Sackaroff, “wait for the interviewer to respond.” Keep in mind that how you speak is just as important as what you say.
Avoid distractions or being a distraction
Just because you are conducting an interview from home, remember that you are working. Your full attention must be on what the interviewer is saying. Now is not the time to fold laundry, update your Facebook status or tidy up. Block off up to an hour for the interview, ensuring your interview space is quiet. Likewise, don’t be a distraction. Avoid nervous ticks such as tapping your pen, rocking back and forth on a squeaky chair or breathing heavily are sounds that can be very distracting for the interviewer. Another tip: Stay hydrated. You will likely be talking—a lot. So, avoid an uncontrollable cough or incessant throat clearing with a glass of water at your side.
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