Don’t get hung up on phone interviews

Posted October 13, 2011, by Josie Chun

There is a good chance you will be interviewed for a job over the phone at some point in your career, so it’s important to master the technique of talking the talk even when you’re not required to walk the walk. An organisation may choose to interview over the phone as part of a preliminary selection process or because it’s geographically more convenient.

Just because you won’t be physically going into the office doesn’t mean you should take a phone interview any less seriously or behave any less professionally. Conducting your interview with bed-hair and wearing your favourite pair of pyjamas is not the way to project a job-winning image, even when you’re not visible to the interviewer.

Here are the things you need to do to really nail a phone interview.

Be prepared

Make sure you do your research just as you would for any other job interview. Find out as much as you can about the company and think about possible answers to interview questions. Practise going through your answers, preferably with another person.

One of the benefits of doing an interview over the phone is that you can have your resume and notes on standby to refer to when the pressure is on. Jot down things you would like to say but be careful not to read your answers or it will sound unnatural. Also have a pen and paper handy so you can keep track of any important things they say during the interview and write down any questions that you would like to ask at the end.

Play the part

While you don’t need to worry about which tie to wear or whether your shoes are polished, smartening yourself up can be an important way of psyching yourself into the right professional mentality. Have a shower, get out of your pyjamas and drag a comb through your hair – your head will be in a much better place for tackling those tricky interview questions! If you look professional, you are much more likely to feel and sound professional.

Create a quiet environment

Your surroundings are just as important as the words you’re saying. No matter how brilliantly you answer every question thrown your way, the noise of blaring music, a TV, screaming kids or barking dogs will immediately detract from your professional image and be both distracting and annoying – and that’s not something any job seeker can afford.

Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted and make sure your mobile is turned off. Don’t conduct the interview on a mobile phone if possible – the sound quality can be poor and you might drop out or lose the connection.

Have a glass of water handy in case your mouth gets dry, but don’t eat, unwrap food or guzzle drinks during your interview. The image of you chomping away on the other end of the line will leave a bad taste in the interviewer’s mind.

Build rapport

It’s crucial for you to build rapport without the usual face-to-face tricks. Using the employer’s name during the course of the interview and smiling when you talk are the telephone equivalents of a firm handshake and eye contact, and will convey warmth and friendliness. Make sure you speak clearly and concisely as it can be more difficult to interpret a person without body language. Also try to make your tone vibrant and dynamic so the interviewer can feel your energy and enthusiasm. 

Follow up

At the end of the interview, ask any questions you may have about the job or company. Finish by thanking the interviewer for their time and say you hope to meet them in person. Follow up with an email of thanks to let them know you are keen and to keep yourself fresh in their mind.

Josie Chun

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