Written by Susan W. McClain
Phone interviews have become a standard first step of the employment interview process. From a recruiter’s perspective, they are an effective and efficient way to narrow down a pool of potential candidates. Along with confirming knowledge, experience and background, a recruiter can assess an individual’s listening and communication skills, professionalism, and attitude. From the candidate’s perspective these phone screenings are critical to moving forward in the selection process and yet these initial interviews typically last only about 30 minutes.
Preparation is Key
So, how do you establish rapport while being concise and presenting your “best self”? Preparation! Treat this type of interview with the same level of importance as you would a face-to-face meeting.
Communication: non-verbal cues
Keep in mind that body language speaks “volumes”. While statistics vary, there is widespread agreement that more than 60% of what we communicate to others is through non-verbal cues. With no visual cues, the interviewer will, consciously or unconsciously, focus in on audio cues. It’s not just what you say, it’s also how you say it. For example, tone, pace and choice of words, can influence how you are perceived with regard to degree of friendliness, happiness, confidence, etc.
Roadmap to Success
Ten recommendations to help you make the most of the opportunity.
1. If called unexpectedly, avoid interviewing “on the spot.” Simply explain that this is not a good time. Setting a date allows you to be better prepared. Make sure to get the interviewer’s name and title.
2. Do your homework; use all available resources (internet press releases, company website, networking, etc.) to become well informed about the company and the job. This includes using LinkedIn when possible to become familiar with the recruiter’s profile.
3. Be prepared with specific examples to explain why your experience, knowledge, interests and personality are a good fit.
4. Upon completing steps 2 and 3, develop bullet points for easy reference and have your resume handy. Although you are well prepared, knowing you have notes available can go a long way in easing your nerves.
5. Identify a space to talk without distraction. Anticipate and eliminate as much background noise as possible; barking dogs, children, traffic, loud machinery, etc.
6. If you are currently unemployed or have taken a personal day off, consider dressing as though you were interviewing in person to put yourself into a “workplace ” frame of mind.
7. Beware of treating a phone interview too casually. Be friendly and show your sense of humor as appropriate, however maintain a level of professionalism.
8. As noted earlier, tone of voice and level of enthusiasm can have a substantial influence on the interviewer’s impression of your personality, general outlook on life and workplace attitude and, consequently, whether or not you will be considered a good fit.
9. It’s perfectly okay to pause a minute or so in order to consider the answer to a question. Simply acknowledge the silence by saying something like: “I want to take a moment to think about an example that best demonstrates my response to your question.”
10. If, at the end of the conversation, you remain interested in the position, “close the deal” by saying: “ I appreciate your time and hope to meet more members of the team. Can you give me a time-frame for notifying candidates of the next round of interviews? Is there anything more I can do to demonstrate my interest and appeal as a candidate?”
“Move to the Next Round, Successful Phone Interviews” is a copyrighted publication of Career & Workplace Directions, LLC and cannot be copied or printed without express permission of Career & Workplace Directions, LLC.