Phone job interviews are a challenge so there are definitely some things to be mindful of before you take that call.
My biggest piece of advice is if you can avoid a phone interview, do it – it’s really hard to connect with someone as well as you can in-person.
However, some employers insist on them, or you may live too far away to meet in person.
There are two kinds of phone interviews, one is an initial screening and the other is the replacement of an actual in-person interview. Some employers like to do phone screenings so they can eliminate candidates for just a few sit-down or working interviews.
So here are some tips on how to get the most out of a phone interview.
Prepare for the Questions
It’s important to think ahead about how you will handle the basic questions. Hesitation from having not prepared will hurt you – a pause on the phone is as bad as a pause in person. Know what you want to say to the following questions and then practice saying it succinctly.
- Tell me about yourself.
- What do you know about this practice?
- Why are you interested in working for us?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- What is your current salary?
Control Your Environment
Choose a quiet, distraction-free place to conduct the interview. If you can’t control that very well in your home (either due to small children, pets, visitors, or other things) then consider doing it outdoors (if weather permits or some place where you can be disturbed). Lots of public libraries have “quiet rooms” you can use for this.
If you are distracted, either by others making noises or trying to do other things like doing the laundry, the employer will get the impression you are either too busy or they aren’t important enough for you to focus. So it’s very important to control your interview environment completely.
Have Some Notes
You do have one advantage with a phone interview in that you can keep some notes in front of you as a prompt of things to cover.
Things you might consider having in front of you are your resume and some notes to prepare for questions you will get. Also, take the job description they posted and type up some notes of how you will respond to things they say they want.
Go to their website and get a feel for their practice – make notes about things they value, equipment they use and services they provide. Bring up the fact that you have done this – it’s impressive that you took the time to get to know them ahead of time.
But take it step further and see if you can find a picture of the person interviewing (likely from their website). It will help you create a more real conversation than you would be able to from just their voice.
Stand up, Smile, and Inject Enthusiasm
Standing helps you project your voice better over the phone – you sound stronger, more confident. This is especially important in phone interviews because your voice is all you have.
It’s also very important to smile and inject a little extra enthusiasm in your voice. Those things will actually come through in your call and helps sell your personality.
I would recommend that you create a sticky note that you place somewhere prominent that says “smile” as a reminder to do just that – it’s easy to forget when you are in the middle of conversation.
Talk, but not too Much
One of the hardest things about phone interviews is gauging the interviewer’s reactions when you are talking. We rely heavily on visual cues we give each other in conversations that help us know if we are talking too much or what we are saying is resonating.
The best advice to handle this is to simply keep your responses short and succinct. You should try to do this anyway in interviews, but especially in phone interviews. Keep your responses to more in-depth questions to around 20-40 seconds. Practice it so you have a good idea how long your responses are.
Then, when you finish a lengthier response, ask for some feedback like, “Does that answer your question?” or “Am I on the right track?” This will help you learn what you would normally be able to see in an in-person interview.
Turn it into a Conversation
As much as you can, turn the interview into more of a discussion about their practice and your approach and philosophies to dental hygiene. They need to hear your passion for what you do, your excitement for the oral health. It’s sometimes hard to get that out when all you are doing is responding to their questions.
Asking them questions, will turn the interview into more of a discussion. It’s also so much easier to make really good connections with others when there is more of a back and forth flow to the interview.
Finally, never let a phone interview end without asking when you can meet in person to discuss the job and your qualifications. This shows you have confidence and are very interested in the job still.
I’ll be honest, phone interviews are not ideal at all, but if you prepare and are aware of these basic things going into it, you’ll feel more confident and be able to take it to the next step by getting an additional interview or even hired.