Employers often use the phone interview as a screening tool to evaluate potential candidates prior to an in-person interview. These interviews are a critical first step toward your successful job search. Take these interviews seriously, don’t just “phone it in.” In other words, just like an in-person interview, the more prepared you are, the greater your chances of success.
Prepare in advance and have your materials handy
Do your research on the company, prepare your list of features and benefits you can offer the company, and write out the questions you want to ask. Spread your materials across a desk or table top so that you can easily grab them as needed during the interview.
Make sure you have a good phone connection
There is nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone that keeps dropping calls, or that you can not hear because of a bad connection. Use a landline whenever possible. If that is not an option for you, ensure you are in a location that has good cell service to avoid bad connections. Consider using a quality headset so that your hands can be free to grab your materials as needed.
Kids, dogs, televisions, and radios are just a few examples of the type of background noise you want to avoid during a phone interview. These items will be a distraction to both you and your interviewer and will detract from your level of professionalism. Find a quiet place where you can avoid any distractions during your phone interview. Also avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum during the phone call.
Overcome the fact that they can’t see you
Since you are not face-to-face, they can’t see your facial expressions and it is more of a challenge to ensure your personality shines through. It may feel a bit strange, but set up a mirror in front of you when you are doing a phone interview. Make eye contact with the mirror and your voice will become more confident. Smile at yourself during the interview and they will hear the smile in your voice.
A few other non-verbal communication tips:
>Be sure that you are speaking clearly and a bit slower than normal to ensure they understand what you are saying.
>Avoid sarcastic remarks or jokes that may fall flat without the context of facial expressions.
>Dress professionally during the phone interview to remind yourself of the situation. It is hard to be professional when you are interviewing in your pajamas!
Follow up just like an in-person interview
During the interview, be sure to get the interviewer’s name and job title. When the interview is complete, send them a thank you note. Thank them for their time, remind them of what you discussed that makes you a good candidate for the job, and express your desire to move forward in the interviewing process.