Employers use telephone screens and interviews as a way of identifying and recruiting candidates for employment. Often they are used to narrow down the pool of applicants in order to decide who will be asked to interview in person.
While you are actively job searching, it is important to be prepared for a phone interview on a moment's notice. While phone interviews are typically scheduled, you never know when a recruiter might call and ask if you have a few minutes to talk.
You should practice for a phone interview in almost the same way you would practice for an in person interview. A great technique for practicing is to conduct a mock interview with a friend or family member over the phone, and record the conversation. When playing back the recording listen carefully to your speech. Make sure to note “ums” and “uhs” and work to reduce them from your conversation. Also note your tone of voice; your voice should convey a positive, confident, and energetic tone.
• Speak slower than you normally would on the phone and enunciate more clearly.
• Make an effort to smile while you practice, it helps maintain a more positive tone of voice.
• Try standing up to help your voice sound more natural and authentic.
• If you use a headset, make sure other people can hear you clearly while using it.
- The best advice is to listen to yourself and then decide if you would hire the voice you just heard. If not, make the appropriate changes.
Like an in person interview, you should prepare by rehearsing answers to types of questions you can expect to encounter such as:
• Can you walk me through your resume?
• What sort of jobs are you looking for?
• What are your strengths and weaknesses?
• What contributions can you make to our company?
Be prepared to give clear examples of how you have performed at work in the past to highlight your skill set. Also make sure to prepare questions to ask the employer about the position or the company.
Having control over your environment is essential to feeling comfortable during the phone interview. Make sure that you have a stress free and noise free environment with which to talk to the recruiter in. If necessary, instruct others who will be around during your call how to act, whether it be asking them to leave the room or be as quiet as possible.
Having these materials handy can be helpful:
• Note cards with answers to questions you expect to face and info about the company
• Paper and pens/pencils in order to take notes during the interview
• A copy of your resume
• Glass of water
During the Interview
Career-management experts estimate that more than 80% of job interviews are won or lost during the first five minutes of conversation.
When you answer the phone…
• Maintain a positive tone and remember all of the tips you gained from practicing
• Have your materials close by
• Gain control over your environment
When Speaking Remember…
• Speak clearly and enunciate. Make sure not to speak too closely to the receiver.
• Sound positive, self-confident and focused.
• Be a good listener.
• Avoid interrupting, let the recruiter complete his/her thought before you respond.
• Don’t smoke, chew gum, eat, or drink (except for some water if necessary).
• Take your time! It’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.
When Answering Questions…
• Do not hesitate to ask for clarification.
• The more information you can gather, the better you can respond.
• Use past jobs as specific examples for supporting your answers.
When Asking Questions…
• Use prepared questions, or anything that came up as a result of the conversation.
• Showcase your interest in the position by asking job specific questions.
• Show off your knowledge of the industry or the company by asking about a recent issue/event.
Before Hanging Up Remember…
• Get the name of the person you spoke with and his/her contact info.
• Ask about the next steps.
• Let the potential employer know that you are very interested in the position and why; SHOW YOUR ENTHUSIASM!
After the Interview
Take notes! After the interview, write down what you were asked and how you answered it. Finally, make sure to follow up with a thank you note which reiterates your interest in the job. This helps demonstrate your enthusiasm about working for that employer and to set you apart from other candidates.
Like any interview, your goal is to sell yourself. Remember, you are working towards obtaining an in person interview with a prospective employer. Creating the proper first impression on the telephone will tremendously increase your chances of being invited for a face-to-face meeting.