When job searching, you need to be always prepared for any method the interviewer may use to reach or interview you. Companies use telephone interviews to narrow down the list of candidates who will attend the in-person interviews. Employers may also use a phone interview to reduce expenses in the case where the candidate is distant from the employer.
The employer may, therefore, opt to conduct a phone interview and therefore you should always be prepared to answer the phone professionally each time you are receiving a call especially from an unfamiliar number. In most cases, however, the interview is scheduled in advance and a specific time and date are set.
So how do you ace your phone interview?
Prepare like in an in-person interview
The same questions asked by employers in an in-person interview will most likely be the same questions asked in a phone interview. You need to be prepared for questions such as your strengths and weaknesses, why you would like to work with the company and other questions on your career path. In the same way, you need to do a research on the company and position and have a list of your own questions to ask the interviewer. A phone interview in most cases takes a shorter time than an in-person interview, therefore take the time to match your skill-set and qualifications to the job description so that you are in a better position to present whom you are. It is also advisable to have a copy of your resume and cover letter close to you for reference purposes.
Practice the interview in advance
Have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview with you answering the questions. Make sure you record it to hear how you sound on phone and also to correct where you are probably having the awkward silence of “uuuuuhhm”.You will also identify the answers you can improve on.
During the interview:
Take a good note of the date and time and then make sure you are in a quiet place with zero distractions. You should also have a pen and paper to take note of the important points during the discussion.
It is advisable to use a landline instead of a cell-phone to minimize poor reception. You should also turn ‘Call-waiting’ off so that your call is not interrupted.
Your voice should sound confident and not squeaky or too low to be heard on the other end, Have a glass of water nearby so that you can take a quick sip in case your mouth gets dry or you get a cough. However, avoid chewing or drinking while on call.
Answer the phone yourself and start by introducing yourself with your name so that the interviewer knows they are speaking to the right person.
Smile while speaking as this creates a positive change of tone in your voice. You may think that body language is not important in a call interview, but your voice reflects and the caller can tell. Standing instead of sitting or slouching will also help in bring out energy and enthusiasm in your voice.
Give precise answers and do not interrupt the interviewer. In the case where you don’t hear clearly, ask for clarification so that you answer correctly, the time to compose your answer and then speak slowly and precisely. Do not take too much time to answer hence creating an awkward silence, but at the same time do not be too quick to answer.
Have your questions ready to ask the interviewer and at the end of the interview, thank the caller for the time. After the interview, review the notes you made during the call and then send a thank you note on email and any other follow-up questions you may have.