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 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 company?
- 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) consider doing it outdoors, in your car, or a quiet room in a public library.
Employers can pick up on if you seem distracted and that struggle with engagement really hurts the impression you give. So it’s 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 nearby to help prompt or remind you.
Things you might consider having in front of you are your resume, responses to basic questions, and examples of stories where you made a difference. Also, take the job description they posted and type up some notes of how you will respond to things they say they want. It sounds like a lot so keep things as brief and condensed as you can.
Go to their website and get a feel for their company. Make notes about things they value, the equipment they use, the services they provide, the people they serve.
One more thing I think helps is to pull up a picture of the person interviewing you (if you can find it). It will help you create a more real conversation than from just their voice.
Stand up, Smile, and Project Enthusiasm
Standing helps you project your voice better over the phone. You’ll project better and sound 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 help 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 a 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 in conversations that help us know if we are talking too much or engaging.
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 at 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 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 business, operations, and philosophies. Asking them questions will help 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. And they can more easily detect and feel your excitement and enthusiasm.
Finally, never let a phone interview end without asking when you can meet in person. This shows you have confidence and are interested in the job. Simply conclude with something like, “This has been great. When can we talk again?”
Phone interviews are not ideal. But if you prepare and are aware of these basic things, you’ll feel more confident and convey that in your voice.
Doug Perry is an expert resume writer and job search coach. He and his wife, Tracie, who is a dental hygienist, created GetHiredRDH in response to the challenging dental hygiene job market and have helped thousands of dental hygienists through tips and individual services. If you need individual, click here to contact Doug.