Phone Interviews

Many job seekers breathe a huge sigh of relief when they learn they have been invited to participate in a phone interview.  They assume that will be a much easier interview and easier preparation since they can have notes in front of them.  In reality, phone interviews can be more challenging than face-to-face interviews because you lose all the visual cues.  You can’t tell how someone is reacting to what you are saying.  They also can’t see your facial expressions or gestures so you have to rely on your voice to deliver the entire message.  There is a tendency to take phone interviews less seriously but that can be a costly mistake.  You have to ace the phone interview to advance to the next steps in the process.  Some tips for success with phone interviews:

  • Preparation – Prepare as if it were a face to face interview.  Think about the questions you may be asked and how you want to respond.  Research the company.  Talk to you networking contacts with knowledge of the company.  Prepare questions in advance that you want to ask your interviewer.  Become knowledgeable about their products, services and competitors.  Be as prepared as possible to put your best foot forward.
  • Engagement – Without visual contact, it can be harder to stay engaged.  Be sure you are somewhere you can minimize distractions.  Do not have a TV or music playing in the background.  Be sure you will not be interrupted.  Tell yourself this is the best use of your next hour and give it your 100% attention.  Listen carefully and respond thoughtfully.
  • Stand Up – You have only your voice to make an impact so use it to its fullest advantage.  Standing up expands the diaphragm and can make you sound more confident.  It is ok to move around a bit but don’t walk so far that it impacts the volume of your voice for your listener.  Be strong and confident in your communications.
  • Smile – Why smile if they can’t see you?  People can hear the smile in your voice.  You do sound different if you are smiling.  Remember to smile to demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm.
  • Mirror – Put a small mirror near the phone.  Use it to remind yourself to smile while you are speaking.    Use it to check your engagement during the interview.
  • Listen carefully – Be sure you understand the question before you jump to answer.  Be sure you don’t cut off the interviewer before the full question is asked.  If you hear them trying to jump in, take the cue that your answer is too long.  Ask clarifying questions if needed to be sure you are addressing what they are asking.
  • Next Steps – Before the call ends, be sure to ask about next steps and timeframe.
  • Summarize – Thank the interviewer for his/her time and offer a brief summary of why you are interested and qualified for this position.  End the interview with reinforcement of your key points.  It is what they are most likely to remember.
  • Thank You – Just because the interview is by phone doesn’t eliminate the need for a handwritten thank you note.  Differentiate yourself by sending a handwritten thank you note within 24 hours.  If they are on a tight deadline also send an email but don’t eliminate the handwritten thank you note.  It makes a difference in the process.
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