While you’re actively job searching, it’s important to be prepared for a phone interview on a moment’s notice. You never know when a recruiter or a networking contact might call and ask if you have a few minutes to talk.
Nail Your Phone Interview
Employers use telephone interviews as a way of identifying and recruiting candidates for employment. Phone interviews are often used to screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for in-person interviews. They are also used as a way to minimize the expenses involved in interviewing out-of-town candidates.
Prepare for a phone interview just as you would for a regular interview. Compile a list of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as a list of answers to typical interview questions. In addition, plan on being prepared for a phone conversation about your background and skills.
- Keep your resume in clear view so it’s at your fingertips when you need to answer questions.
- Have a short list of your accomplishments available to review.
- Have a pen and paper handy for note-taking.
- Turn call-waiting off so your call isn’t interrupted.
- If the time isn’t convenient, ask if you could talk at another time and suggest some alternatives.
- Clear the room – evict the kids and the pets. Turn off the stereo and the TV. Close the door.
- Unless you’re sure your cell phone service is going to be perfect, consider using a landline rather than your cell phone to avoid a dropped call or static on the line.
Talking on the phone isn’t as easy as it seems, so it is helpful to practice.
- Have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview and tape record it so you can see how you sound over the phone. Any cassette recorder will work.
- Listen to your recording for “ums” and “uhs” and “okays.” Practice reducing them from your conversational speech.
- Rehearse answers to typical questions you’ll be asked.
- Don’t chew gum or eat.
- Keep a glass of water handy, in case you need to wet your mouth.
- Smile. Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice.
- Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
- Use the person’s title (Mr. or Ms. and their last name.) Only use a first name if they ask you to.
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
- Take your time – it’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment to collect your thoughts.
- Give short answers.
- Remember your goal is to set-up a face-to-face interview. After you thank the interviewer ask if it would be possible to meet in person.
- Take notes about what you were asked and how you answered.
- Remember to say “thank you.” Follow with a thank you note which reiterates your interest in the job.
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