Many companies save time and effort by doing initial phone interviews before committing themselves to hours of time in-person assessing and evaluating potential hires. They are doing this because, frankly, it’s a good way to save a team’s time from interviewing obviously unqualified people. From your standpoint, this means that you need to develop an additional interview skill.
One of the disadvantages of doing a phone interview is that they can’t see how well you look or what a great suit you’re wearing to the interview or that you own terrific ties, shoes or bags. It also means that you can sit in the comfort of your home rather than traveling to their offices. With this opportunity, comes a problem. All they can do is listen to your voice and the energy that you convey and listen to the answers to your questions; you, on the other hand, can’t see when you’ve lost their attention or when you’ve bored them. There are no visual cues for either of you.
With preparation, you can do a fabulous job and get in the door. Here are a few pointers.
- For any interview, whether done by phone or in-person, go to the company’s website and learn about the firm. Also, see if they will send a job specification to you or if you can find it on their site (or elsewhere). After all the spec is the road map to what they are going to assess your abilities for.
- Take some notes to remind yourself of points that you may want to make or about things that you might forget. Sometimes people get nervous, just like they do in-person. Have a few notes nearby about your role, responsibilities and accomplishments as helpful reminders. Support your statements with detailed examples of accomplishments when possible. Remember, they can’t see if you have a book or manual open to something you might be a little rusty in! They can’t see that you have your resume in front of you!
- Have someone call you and listen to your voice on the phone. Maybe your mobile or cordless phone makes your voice sound tinny. Maybe you speak too softly, mumble or speak too quickly to be understood by others. Ask someone you trust to critique you.
- Pick out a place in your house where the kids won’t interrupt you or the TV won’t make noise in the background or you have privacy at work. I hate interviewing people who have music playing in the background (it happens more often than you can imagine).
- Write down their questions so that you can stay on purpose. Too often, people forget the original question and go rambling about something far afield. Stay focused.
- Your voice is your only sales tool. Don’t allow yourself to sound tired or blasé over the phone. Sounds energetic and excited, even if they’ve asked you the same questions that every other interviewer has for the last six months!
- At the time of the phone interview, log off your computer (If you can’t definitely get off of services that chime. These may sabotage your concentration just when you need it most.
- Practice. Practice. Practice. I can’t emphasize enough that you need to practice phone interviewing, just as you would an in-person one. It is not enough to simply think the answer. The words actually have to come out of your mouth. Ideally, they need to be heard by someone else who can give you feedback on how you sound and on the quality of your answer.
- If possible, try to avoid using your mobile phone. Cell phones rarely allow your voice to sound as clear as a standard land line. If you must use one, make sure you are in a place where you get great cell service.
- Be courteous and try not to speak over the interviewer or cut them off. If you do, apologize and let the interviewer continue. As someone who has interviewed people for years, I know how challenging this can be. You are either to demonstrate expertise and may sometimes slip and speak over the interviewer. Be conscious of this
- Do not hang up until the interviewer has
- Start every interview by asking what I call, “The Single Best Question You Should Ask on Any Interview. ” Run a Google search, find it in practice it. It is a difference maker
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