7 Phone Interview Tips
Photo: The Office, NBC
You’ve seen all thisl before: a karaoke singer with eyes glued to the lyrics, the musician thoroughly focused on the notes of the sheet music, the TV reporter reading the teleprompter, the game show host reciting words from cue cards.
This just begs the question — how much better would they sound if they had all their lines memorized?
Such is the case with phone interviews. From personal experience and from countless discussions with people I know, the general consensus is that phone interviews provide room for ready access to things you normally would never try during a face-to-face interview. Cheat-sheets, a crutch or two, or copious notes plastered everywhere just in case you need to remember a key point during an interview, is what we’re talking about here.
So, back to the matter at hand. What if, just like the folks mentioned above, you had all your personal information memorized?
The benefit of making sure you have a full grasp of all that you are definitely outweighs the risks of trying to navigate the complexities of a phone interview with a multitude of visual aids and props. In other words, winging it just doesn’t cut it.
The goal should be to get to a comfort level such that you arrive fully prepared for the phone interview. You need to study you! You need to practice specific, potential interview questions. You need to formulate answers that resonate with the party on the other end of the phone. You need to come across naturally in full command of who you are, what you bring to the table, and deliver a series of compelling reasons to hire you.
Here’s a list of seven things to keep in mind when it comes to phone interviews:
1. Know yourself to the utmost. Be able to clearly communicate every relevant thing about you, the company you’re interviewing for, and how you can benefit the company — and do this verbally and visually, if necessary, in the case of a videoconference-style interview.
2. Do a reconnaissance before the phone interview. If your neighbor just happens to schedule his band practice at the same time as your interview, or the garbage truck rolls in at that specific time, good luck getting your points across and making a good impression with your prospective employer through the unwanted noise! Find the quietest place possible for you to hear and be heard. That means make sure you have all loud pets far from earshot and that any other loud noises won’t interfere with the matter at hand.
3. Use minimal notes, but if you do need to have helpful information readily available, post it on a wall or secured to a table. The last thing anyone wants to hear during a phone interview is rustling papers or mouse clicks. Do your homework early, absorb the information so you can recite it easily and minimize the potential for losing your forward momentum due to your reliance on notes. (One idea is to post your resume on the wall or table right next to the job posting. You can draw lines that point to things that match. The idea is to create a sort of “brain-trigger” to keep you focused on how your experience fits. Another suggestion is to place the most current company press releases in plain view and refer to them at the appropriate time during the phone interview.)
4. If you plan to conduct your phone interview from your cell phone, make sure any hands-free technology works properly. Test it out to make sure others can hear you, it’s fully charged, call-waiting is blocked and you’re not in an area known for dropped calls.
5. Imagine the person you’re talking to as you conduct the phone interview. Radio DJs often place a photo of a person in front of them so they can speak to a face. You can do the same by placing a photo of someone you know in front of you. This might also help you relax a bit.
6. Maintain your professional demeanor at all times. Don’t let your guard down and get too familiar or casual during the phone interview. Speak clearly, stay on point and keep things focused on the reason you’re here — to get hired, fit in, and make a positive impact at the company.
7. Don’t forget to ask for the job. In some way, you want to let the person on the other end of the phone know that you’re definitely interested in moving forward in the interview process. Make sure to restate your excitement and enthusiasm about the position. Remember, the person conducting the phone interview will probably hang up with you and dial the next person on their list. What can you do to be remembered? How memorable are you?