In addition to an increase in the use of Skype and other video-based technology the use of the Telephone Interview is on the rise. It is an inexpensive method to interview on a national basis and also provides an opportunity to judge cultural and/or behavioural fits. You’ll blow your chance of obtaining a face to face interview if you don’t prepare for your phone interview. Of course, you need a good phone line because there is nothing worse than a crackling line during a phone interview. If you are on your landline, make sure you are using a trusted phone service provider like Eatel (click to view listing) and if you are using your cell then make sure you are in an area with good reception.
1) Never while driving.
Try to avoid conducting the interview in a busy, noisy environment or while driving. If you have to be on the road, pull over and gather your thoughts before making the call. If possible, a private office where you will not be disturbed is perfect. Too many telephone interviews are interrupted by questions from colleagues, or the barista behind the counter at Starbucks! Ensure you allow enough time for the interview, don’t assume it will be a cursory “pre-screen” as some telephone interviews can last over an hour and delve into your experience in detail. Use a landline for receiving the call whenever possible! Having poor cell reception, which causes you to not be heard or dropping a call and not being able to complete the interview, can be fatal.
Have your resume in front of you and any notes you’ve taking during your research of the company. Prepare for a phone interview just as you would a face to face meeting. Being knowledgeable about the company and the players you’re talking to is crucial at every step of the interview process. To avoid scripted answers, have stories readily available which illustrate your accomplishments.
3) Sit in front of the mirror.
The best advice I can give you is to SMILE! You can’t imagine how this simple tip will transform your phone interview into an animated exchange where your energy and passion will come through over the phone line. Do you look animated? Is your head up? You could try standing up and walking around, some people feel they are more animated when standing up and this allows for a greater level of focus.
4) DO NOT actively listen when asked questions.
There is a time and place to practice your active listening skills, but on a telephone interview it can disrupt the flow and can lead to a disjointed and awkward conversation.
5) Ask the interviewer to rephrase or repeat back the question.
However, if you are uncertain about the question either ask the interviewer to rephrase or paraphrase this back.
6) Use regular pauses.
Leave healthy pauses after every two or three sentences to allow the interviewer to either drill down on a point or confirm they have heard enough. Without the social cues you are used to in a face to face conversation, some people tend to just ramble on and on. Pausing will help you to stay on point and stopping to take a sip of water will help you slow down and refocus too.
7) Vary your pace, pitch and tone.
It is very difficult to convey energy and empathy over the phone so it is important that you vary your speech.
8) Practice telling your story
Just like in a face to face meeting, the interviewer may ask you to run through your resume. Practice telling your story in a concise manner rather than going on in detail about each move or experience. This is something that will be covered again in face to face meeting, but the initial call will be a good time to clarify any short stints or gaps in your resume.
9) Relax and build rapport but beware of becoming too chatty.
As with all interviews, first impressions count. Good interviewers will try to break the ice early on, but don’t lower your guard. Remember this is an interview, don’t become too chatty, stay on point but avoid coming across as ‘cold.’
10) Ask Questions.
Like most interviews you will get a chance to ask questions, this is where your homework will pay off. Have a list of 3 pertinent questions which show you really prepared for the interview and are interested in the company or the interviewer. Ultimately, the questions should indicate your desire to join the team, be successful, etc. – not about how much vacation time you’ll have! If an interviewer has a solid day of telephone interviews you will probably stand out more if you ask an insightful question.