Most people regard a phone interview as a mere formality on their way to a face-to-face interview. Although the phone interview is usually just a preliminary step to the formal interview, it is just as important. If you don’t impress your future employer with your phone interview, you’ll never make it to the formal interview.
Are you nervous talking on the phone? Not sure of the best way to approach a phone interview? We’re here to help. Here are some helpful tips to remember when going into a phone interview that should put your mind at ease.
Make Sure the Phone Is Reliable
Nothing is more annoying to a potential employer than a dropped call. No matter how reliable your cell service is, it’s always a good idea to use a landline instead of a cell phone for phone interviews if at all possible. Accidental hang-ups don’t just upset the interviewer, they can also throw off the flow of the interview and make you flustered and panicked when you get the interviewer back on the phone.
Speak as Clearly as Possible
Since you don’t have the benefits of facial expressions, hand gestures, or visual aids to help with the interview, all you have is your voice to communicate your answers. Make sure you are speaking clearly and purposefully. Smile when you talk — it really comes across in your voice. Avoid eating, smoking, or doing any other activity that might obscure your speech. The last thing you want is for the interviewer to ask you to repeat your answer because they couldn’t understand you.
Select a Quiet Place for the Interview
Most phones pick up ambient noise around you better than you’d think, so try to keep your environment as quiet as possible. Turn the TV and radio off. Keep the kids out of the room. Make sure there is no loud traffic or sirens that could disturb your phone call. If the interviewer has to ask about a random sound or you feel need to explain it, not only will it disrupt the flow of the interview, but will also make it look like you aren’t taking the interview seriously.
Avoid Any Interruptions
Distractions are the easiest way to fumble a phone interview. At a face-to-face interview, it’s just you and the interviewer, and there’s nothing to distract you from your answers. But from behind a telephone, any number of things can be going on. Make sure you are free of distractions. Don’t try to multi-task. Turn off your call waiting. If you seem distracted during the interview, it shows you are not taking it seriously.
Dress to Impress
Even though you aren’t meeting face-to-face, it’s a good idea to dress as though you were. Interviewing in your PJs may make you feel too relaxed and comfortable, which could cause you to drop your guard and soften your answers. Dress up to give the event a sense of importance and professionalism.
Take Advantage of the Phone Interview
The advantage of a phone interview is the interviewer can’t see what you are doing behind the phone. Use that to your advantage. Have a copy of your resume and several notes on hand, including the job description, so you can refer to them during the interview. Use your laptop to look at the company’s website (but make sure you turn the speakers off!) Have a glass of water on hand in case you get dry mouth. Create an environment that you are most comfortable with to optimize your performance.
Although you are hidden from the interviewer during a phone interview, it doesn’t give you license to slack. Use the phone interview as practice for the formal interview. Keep everything professional and be as prepared as possible, and you are sure to land the follow-up interview.