Over on the Brazen Careerist blog, Penelope Trunk has an informative post about the top five interview blunders. One of her blunders is not being prepared for a phone interview. Here are ten additional tips for mastering the phone interview.
Schedule the meeting during a time when you won’t be distracted.
A phone interview should be scheduled like any other
interview. At the designated appointment time, make sure the dog is in the
backyard and someone else is watching the kids. If a recruiter or hiring
manager calls you without advance notice and wants to interview you on the
spot, use caution. If the interview “conditions” are not optimal at the time of
the call, it is best to tell the interviewer that you are very interested in
the position, but need to schedule another time to have a conversation. That
time can be as soon as ten minutes later, just make sure that you can take the
call without being distracted.
Conduct interviews from a landline.
Cell phones are a boon to modern communication, but the
quality is still not the same as that from a land line. You don’t want to
frustrate the recruiter or the hiring manager with a bad connection. Plan your
interview from a reliable phone line.
Create an office space.
Dedicate an area as your office. This could be as simple as
a card table with a phone and your documents. Conduct your interviews from your
“office”. Being seated at a desk or table allows you to create an environment
similar to an in-person interview.
Put a mirror in front of you.
This helps you focus and it anchors your conversation to the
visual representation of a person. Monitoring your facial expressions helps you
see if you are communicating your enthusiasm to the recruiter.
Have a glass of water nearby.
If your throat is dry or you get a tickle you can take care
of it before it turns into a cough and disrupts the flow of the interview.
Have your notes in front of you.
A phone interview is like an open book test. You can have
your company research and answers to potential interview questions right in
front of you. Try putting key information on colored index cards and organize
Vary Your Voice.
Since the other person can’t see you, it is critical that
you vary the tone and cadence of your voice to communicate interest and develop
Use pauses effectively.
Pauses in an interview situation are always difficult and
they can be especially awkward during a phone interview. Rather than wondering
what the person on the other end is doing or if they are still there, use the
silence to ask a question. For example, if the interviewer has just asked you
about your strengths and your response is met with silence, make that an
opportunity to ask a question like “What are the key strengths of your ideal
candidate?” This takes care of the silence and allows you to learn more about
We have grown so accustomed to multi-tasking, however it can
be counterproductive during a phone interview. Don’t check your email or stick a casserole in
the oven while you are engaged in a phone interview. Act the same way you would
for an in-office interview and maintain your focus.
Record some of your answers to prospective interview questions. Play them back and critique. Are you easy to understand? Is your presentation riddled with long pauses and “ums?” Do you communicate interest and enthusiasm? If necessary, rework your answers and your presentation.
Posted by Barbara Safani