So you have attracted a prospective employer’s attention and gotten an invitation to interview for a job. That’s great, but you discover that the interview will be conducted by phone. Is it time to panic or prepare?
Phone interviews are conducted widely by employers for two main reasons—to reduce a large number of candidates to a manageable number for face-to-face or teleconferencing interviews or as a cheap, simple way to speak with applicants long distance.
One challenge of phone job interviews is the lack of visual cues that both interviewers and applicants often rely on to get a sense of how the interview is going. However, people focus more on spoken words as the primary way to communicate. If you are prepared, this can be a definite plus in finding employment.
Here are five things to keep in mind when preparing for a phone job interview.
- Don’t slack off because you will not be seen during the phone interview. The initial reaction to a job interview over the phone is to cut way back on preparation. This is a major mistake. Instead, treat the process as if it is a face-to-face job interview, even dressing the part. You want to maintain a professional mindset and sitting in your shorts or even less is not conducive to this.
- Focus on the planning and logistics that goes into an extended phone conversation. Minimize distractions, such as co-workers, pets, the neighbor’s lawnmower, etc. and make sure that the phone connection is strong and not susceptible to interruptions or even an outage. It is amazing how often one or more of these issues can compromise a phone job interview, vastly reducing your chances of landing the job.
- Smile while you speak. The natural tendency when speaking by phone is to reduce inflection and animation. By smiling while you speak, your tone of voice becomes warmer and more inviting. Sometimes standing while you speak increases the likelihood that you will use a more formal, businesslike speaking approach. Also remember to speak clearly, slowly, and respectfully.
- Focus on listening and responding to the questions asked and not on other peripheral issues. A phone job interview is not a phone chat, but is being conducted for a very specific reason. Also, it is fine to ask for clarification from the interviewer(s) to make sure you are not providing too much or too little detail or are interpreting the questions correctly. Without visual cues, it is more difficult to determine these issues.
- Ask for clarification on next steps in the hiring process. Make sure you know the names and titles of the interviewer(s) for use in sending thank you notes and try to get some indication of the selection process and time frame.
Keep in mind that phone job interviews do not have to be any more difficult or stressful than face-to-face interviews. Adequate preparation, minimizing phone line issues and interruptions, smiling while speaking, using good listening and speaking etiquette, and making sure you understand the selection process and who interviewed you will go a long way to helping you nail the phone job interview and find employment.