Instead of in-person interviews, job seekers are now seeing a lot more interviews done over the phone. For the most part, employers are using this method primarily for quickly screening candidates and evaluating whether or not the employer wants to schedule an in-person interview.
Because phone interviews are becoming more frequent and more important to making a first impression, you need to prepare differently than you would your in-person interviews. You’ll really have to make sure to say the right words in order to stick out immediately as a great potential candidate. Here are our tips for doing just that:
Prepare for the Questions
In order to weed out candidates, employers will likely ask you questions about your current/most recent job, why you are looking for a new job, why you want to work for them, and about specific skills required for the position. They are looking for to-the-point answers to get a quick idea of who you are and what you would bring to the company as an employee.
Always expect your first question to be “Tell me about yourself,” and have prepared a pitch no longer than 30 seconds describing your background and qualifications for the job. Employers are likely to also ask hard-hitting and specific questions in order to further weed you out. Be prepared to answer questions based on flags your resume might have – do you have an employment gap or frequent job changes? Are you changing your career? Again, this is a screening process, so be prepared to defend yourself well.
Of course, always have a few questions prepared to ask the interviewer that further showcase your interest in the position.
Don’t Take an Impromptu Call
Occasionally, an employer might call you out of the blue and ask if you have a few minutes for an interview. Thank them for calling, and ask if you can reschedule. It’s better to have even a few minutes to collect yourself and prepare rather than sound disorganized and obviously caught off-guard. The employer will understand you’re keeping an organized schedule, not that you’re disinterested.
Get Rid of Distractions
Be in a quiet room where you won’t be distracted by TV, kids, pets, and other electronics or people. Make sure everyone living with you knows you have an interview and not to bother you until you come out of the room.
Use a Landline
If you can, use a landline phone so as not to risk spotty cell phone service. Disable call-waiting if possible.
Prepare a Cheat-Sheet
As you job search, you should have prepared a list of all your qualifications, experiences, strengths and weaknesses, as well as answers to possible interview questions. Have your resume and other materials in front of you to reference during the call. You can either print them out or have them up on your computer screen. Also have a pen and paper out for note taking.
Make sure you speak slowly and clearly – you are harder to hear on the phone than in person. And smile! Even though the interviewer can’t see it, smiling changes your tone of voice to project a positive, enthusiastic image. It may also help to dress the part – often when you’re wearing business attire you act and speak more business-like then you would if you were in your sweats.
Be a Closer
Remember, the purpose of the phone interview is to get that in-person interview. At the end of the call, make sure you ask what the next steps are in the interviewing process and when you should expect to hear back. Let them know one last time how interested you are in the position and quickly why you’d be great for the job. Finally, always thank the interview for their time, and be sure to send a follow-up thank you after the call.
Any other tips you have for phone interviews? Or phone interview horror stories? Tell us in the comments!
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