An interview over the phone can cause just as much anxiety as an in-person interview. You must convey your message as clearly as possible because the interviewer can’t see your non-verbal cues. It may be even more uncomfortable over the phone to have long periods of silence or cutting the interviewer off during the conversation. Employers use a phone interview to help them, qualify the best candidates to invite for a face-to-face interview. There are many steps you can take to help you ace your next phone interview.
Go ahead and cheat.
You can cheat a little on a phone interview. What that means is that you can pull up the internet while you are on your phone interview to look up the company information or other information. Do this quietly so the interviewer can’t hear the typing. In addition, do not focus too much on your web browsing because it will be harder to actively listen. Print out your resume and have it in front of you. That way you can reference if you are having trouble remembering a previous position or achievement that would work well to highlight. In addition, have the job description in front of you so you can also refresh your memory about what the employer is looking for the candidate to perform on a day to day basis.
Use a landline
Most people don’t have a landlines at their homes, but if you have access to one, it would be preferable. Cell phones can be adversely affected by changes in weather or low reception areas. Your voice may sound different on a cell phone than a landline due to clarity as well. If it is not possible to be on a landline phone during your interview, make sure you will be in a good area to partake in the interview.
Be in one physical location
Absolutely do not drive or walk outside because there could be distracting noises or the possibility of a call drop. Being in the comfort of your own home would be the best location for your interview. Do not use bluetooth headset during your interview either. If your kids or pets are home, keep yourself in a separate room that you will not be distracted and background noise won’t be an issue. While the technology on bluetooth headsets has greatly improved, you’re simply adding to worrying about another electronic not working properly.
Make time for the interview
Some people will try to squeeze in a phone interview during their lunch hour. This is not a good practice for several reasons. You may be running late for your lunch break due to workload, meetings, or other priorities. The interviewer may also be running late so that could greatly decrease the amount of time you have for the phone interview or you will have to re-schedule the interview altogether. If a phone interview is going well, the interview could end up running longer than planned. It would be awkward to try to wrap up the call when you are impressing them.
When you answer your phone, make sure that you answer using your name. That is the professional way to answer your phone and lets the interviewer know right away they have the right person. Also, have a good idea of how to start the conversation. This includes exchanging pleasantries and perhaps a question like where the interviewer is located. This will help make you and the interviewer more comfortable. They say people can see a smile through the sound of someone’s voice. So go ahead and smile while you talking. People tend to be more serious and lack enthusiasm over the phone. This will help you sound more excited.
Body language is visible
Make sure you watch your body language while you are speaking as well People tend to have certain tendencies while on the phone such as pacing or swinging their legs. You can distract yourself through these habits or try your best to minimize them. If you are a person who tends to pace around from room to room, shut the door and cut yourself off.
If sometimes you get distracted you such as a dog barking, go ahead and tell the interviewer. Especially if it when they are explaining something important or asking a question. They could believe you aren’t paying attention unless you specify what happened. They are human too so they will understand.
Follow etiquette rules
Just as in a face-to-face interview, do not being chewing gum, eating, drinking, or smoking while you are in the interview. You may want to keep a glass of water nearby in case your throat gets dry from talking. Listen attentively to the interviewer so you do not cut them off. Also, use the person’s title when you are speaking to them. For instance, if the interviewer’s name is Joe and he would like you to address him that way, do so.
Topics to avoid
Never ever talk about salary or compensation on a phone interview. Some employers will try to weed out candidates by trying to get an idea of what you are looking to make. You need to keep your answer very vague at this point. An example of what to say would be to simply say that you want a better understanding of the total compensation before you discuss salary. Leave it at that for now.
Thank you letter
When you send a thank you letter for a phone interview, the time frame to do so is very limited. You should send a thank you e-mail in one to three hours from the time of your interview. Reinforce your interest in the position and in-person interview. Make sure you took some notes during the interview and include a recap of the highlights of how you are worthy of a face to face interview.
Remember, the goal of your phone interview is setting up a face-to-face. Use these best practices, show the interviewer that you have the qualities they are looking for, and verbalize your desire for a face-to-face interview. This will help literally open the door to a new opportunity.
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