7 Unbeatable Phone Interview Tips

March 5th, 2015 | Articles, Interviewing | No Comments »

Phone Interview

These days, people aren’t much for phone conversations. Unless it’s big news (good or bad), people tend to rely on snack-sized texts or meatier emails. However, phone interviews happen, whether you’re a phone person or not.

When you do have a phone interview, employers need to be as impressed by your skills and personality over the phone as they will be when meeting you in the flesh.

Know the Time You’ll Need – A phone interview is a phone interview, right? Not necessarily.

Some companies conduct a 10-30 minute preliminary phone screening while others opt to run the full 30 minute to 1 hour interview. There’s a big difference between the two run times.

Either way, you never want to cut off the interviewer mid-sentence because of other obligations. It falsely implies the job isn’t worth your time. Always find out the projected time frame in advance and give yourself 10-15 minutes of wiggle room. You’ll thank yourself later.

Make Ample Preparations – It’s tempting to treat a phone interview like an open book test. Though you won’t be looking your interviewer in the eyes, you need to do the same amount of preparation as you would otherwise. That means, extensively researching the company and thinking up questions to ask about the company culture.

Most of your responses and questions should be memorized. You can keep notes close at hand (reminders of your talking points, growth metrics, ROIs, etc.), but you never want to be reading off of a script.

Find the Right Reception – A phone interview is only as good as the tools you use and the location you pick. Never go into a phone screening or full interview with faulty hardware. If your phone is on the fritz, make sure you have a replacement. If you’re desperate, use a landline (if you can find one).

Location is equally important. Depending on your provider, your home may be in a wandering dead zone. The last thing you want to do is lose the call to the cellular equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle. Find a quiet place with good reception, and hold your interview there.

Be Punctual – Punctuality indicates you take the opportunity and the employer’s time seriously. Like any interview, you want to be ready at least 15 minutes in advance.

Smile – The human voice, in the absence of physical cues, can convey the speaker’s emotions. Regularly smiling throughout your interview can make you sound more enticing as a candidate.

Even though your interviewer won’t be able to see your grin, research has been conducted by the University of Portsmouth to prove that people can hear a smile just by listening to someone’s voice. With all of your other nonverbal communication lost in translation, the message needs to be sent that you’re a pleasant and upbeat person.

Give Your Interviewer Room to Speak – Ever had a phone conversation where both parties keep cutting each other off? It’s like a bad comedy routine. On a social call, it can be annoying. On a phone interview, it may imply you’re not courteous or patient.

Always provide the speaker on the other end with enough time to complete a thought, wait 5 seconds for any follow up, and then proceed with your answer.

Go Interactive – One advantage that phone interviews have over in-person interactions is that it can be more acceptable to review your work simultaneously. If you have an interactive portfolio, demo project, or other example of your skills, you have a chance to guide your interviewer through some of the best features.

Because neither person is expected to make eye contact, it allows your interviewer to absorb the full extent of your work and really get drawn into what you can offer as an employee.

Overall, good phone interviews are judged by the same factors that make face-to-face interviews memorable. Be prepared, provide tailored responses, ask strong questions about the culture, and always finish the interview by asking what’s next. That way, your interviewer is charmed by your voice before you ever meet face-to-face.

by James Walsh

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