To have an outstanding interview experience, you must be well-prepared before even stepping foot in the office. It’s not enough to simply possess a stellar résumé and look great; now there is also the precursor of a phone interview! So make sure you are prepared for what this step can bring – it could very possibly lead you to that job offer.
“The global economy means more and more cross-border hiring, where an initial phone interview becomes even more important,” says Sanjeev Agrawal, founder of Collegefeed, a career marketplace for college students.
Nowadays, businesses are turning to phone interviews as a way of sifting through potential new hires without investing in the time and money associated with on-site meetings. This allows employers to quickly identify candidates who meet their criteria.
A survey of 515 human resource managers conducted by OfficeTeam, a staffing agency headquartered in Menlo Park, California revealed that the majority (57%) considered phone interviews to take place “very often”.
Paul Bailo, author of “The Essential Phone Interview Handbook” emphasizes that all job searches begin with a phone call. Consequently, it is essential to remember that any discussion you have with a potential employer – no matter how brief – will make an impactful impression.
Even if you’re not in the same room as someone, it’s still important to bring your best attitude when communicating with them. Although your intentions may be good, don’t forget that the way you talk and how fast or slow you speak can easily be misconstrued. Here is a comprehensive guide on delivering effective verbal communication- no matter where in the world!
Step 1: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
“It takes days to get ready for a phone interview,” explains Bailo. From today one, he strongly suggests conducting thorough research by consulting Google to gain ample knowledge about the company in question. Then, on day two, write out a list of questions, like, “What specific qualities and skills are you looking for in a job candidate?” or “I read that the company ____ (insert recent company success here). How do you see this position contributing to the continued success of the organization?” Showing your enthusiasm for the company and position will strongly demonstrate that you are a highly capable candidate. Agrawal points out, “Phone interviews are a great opportunity to find out more details about the job, the company, the work environment and the team, as job descriptions are notoriously vague.”
Another tip: Before your interview, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the interviewer by searching for their photograph online. Whether it be on LinkedIn or the company’s website, it can make all the difference when getting to know someone – just seeing them face-to-face!
Step 2: Take Care of the Basics
To eliminate distracting noises, such as barking dogs or crying children, ensure that everyone is out of the house. Alternatively, find a secluded room and lock yourself inside so you don’t have to listen to any blaring car horns.
If you have the facility, opt for a more dependable landline connection; otherwise, ensure your cell phone is completely charged and that you are in an area with great reception. Additionally, make sure to get the interviewer’s number just in case of accidental disconnection.
“Phone interviews are shorter than in-person interviews, which means you have less time to make a good impression.”
Step 3: Put On Your Game Face
Represent yourself well by dressing as you would for an in-person interview; your professional appearance will help you exude confidence and poise during the call.
Remember to smile: To project a positive attitude on the phone, you must have a smile on your face! Place a mirror in front of you to ensure that your facial expression is appropriate while speaking. As body language isn’t an available resource during this type of interview, it’s all about having great vocal delivery – so make sure to take the extra steps and prep beforehand. About an hour before going live, imbibe some honey (a teaspoon) or suck on lozenges to lubricate your throat; and keep hydrated by keeping water nearby for drinking throughout the call.
Step 4: Take Advantage of the Invisibility Factor
During a phone interview, you can have all the resources nearby that you need to know about the company and interviewer. To avoid background noise during your call, it’s wise to keep copies of your résumé and job description within sight; consider taping them on the wall right in front of you at eye level for easy reference.
Step 5: Remember the 3 C’s–Concision, Concentration, and Courtesy
Concision: Phone interviews are brief, so you need to make a strong impact in an expedited amount of time. Therefore, it’s best not to provide lengthy answers that could cause the interviewer’s focus to diminish. Aim for no more than three sentences per response when possible. To ensure success during your interview, practice potential questions and responses aloud the day prior – this will help sharpen your skills and impress the interviewer! (Think old standbys like, “What are your strengths?” and even the open-ended “Tell me about yourself….”)
Concentration: Remain focused and jot down notes while you’re on the call. This is not a time to sort through your mail or answer emails. “If you feel you are easily distracted and drawn to multitasking, remove or turn off anything you might be tempted to use,” says Bailo. “You must listen carefully so that your responses are on point.”
Courtesy: Project a polished and courteous demeanor. “At the end of the call, ask, ‘Do my qualifications meet the company’s needs?’ Then ask when you can meet with them in person,” suggests Bailo. And, Agrawal adds, “however the interview goes, end with ‘thank you.’ The last few words of a conversation are often the most remembered.”
Step 6: Follow Up
After the interview has concluded, take a moment to send a polite thank-you email within two days expressing your appreciation for their time and summarizing the topics discussed during your phone conversation. The subject line should be: “Your name and the position you applied for.”
If you’re passionate about this role, now’s the time to reiterate your desire. To stand out from other job seekers and give yourself an edge, include a link to an intriguing news article related to the company that you already discovered while doing your preparations.