TELEPHONE interview preparation should be treated no differently than the standard ‘in person’ variety. The best of the telephone interview tips to impart is that you should deal with them exactly as you would for any interview—research and practice. In the same way that you shine in a traditional interview, what gets you noticed by hirers over the telephone is your knowledge of your own skills and how you can pitch them at the company’s values and needs.
The best case scenario is, of course, that you are provided with a date and time for the interview that gives you some days to make the best preparations. The telephone interview situation can work to your advantage, so you can arrange your home-office or spare-room in such a way that you have sight of everything you need to give authoritative answers to all the questions you are asked.
But with the telephone interview, it is also useful to consider that you might be called out of the blue, or else given a time that doesn’t leave you much time for preparation. So consider this preparation part of your ongoing job-seeking process.
Communication skills are important too, naturally, so it might be useful to have a friend interview you over the phone, and ask them for feedback on your fluency and deliver. Here are 7 telephone interview tips that show you the best ways to get ready for this ‘trial by phone’.
1. Research Your Résumé Thoroughly
IN A post about telephone interview preparation, it almost seems superfluous to say that you should always be prepared. But this first of our telephone interview tips is vital to remind you to bear in mind that when interviewers are unable to see you, they will be especially alert to verbal cues—hesitation, mumbling, stuttering, etc—that can betray either lack of self-knowledge or lack of confidence.
Look at your résumé with an objective eye, critically assessing the way in which certain points might appear to a third party—particularly a third party who is saying: on the basis of this document, would we give this person a job? What would you say to someone who asked you for more details on a particular point.
One fantastic advantage of the phone interview is that you can have your notes in front of you. However, try not to lean on this too much.
2. Be Mindful of the All-Verbal Arena
IT’S probably most important while in this ‘trial by telephone’ arena to be mindful of certain etiquette and codes.
Remember, the convention here is that you must listen carefully to the question, and then deliver your answer, as concisely and fluidly as you can.
Be aware of the shortcomings of the telephone interview from interviewer’s point of view. They cannot read your body language, so while keeping your responses concise and to the point, periodically ask whether you have answered their question, or if they would like any additional detail.
Here’s another point to bear in mind. If you get an unscheduled call, and you are not available to talk, pleasantly thank them for calling, but explain that you are not at a desk currently, and would be unable to give them the attention they would require. Politely request a reschedule.
Do not wing it! You need to be comfortable, relaxed and focused.
3. Create a Comfort Zone
ONE of the great advantages of the telephone interview is the opportunity it gives for you to create a physical comfort zone for facing the key appointment. Getting comfortable is one of the easiest telephone interview tips to take on board. It simply makes more sense to make the most of the opportunity to be utterly calm and focused.
You are looking for a quiet area, a place where you cannot be disturbed by background noise, children or animals!
Get settled in your comfort zone prior to the interview. Have some water handy to sip and do some relaxed deep breathing exercises in the minutes prior to the scheduled phone call.
It is important not to get too relaxed. You have to be alert to the interviewer’s questions. What you’re going for is clean, quiet and uncluttered, where all the notes and prompts that you might need are comfortably within your sight for easy access.
4. Be Calm But Passionate
THE phone interview is a pretty rigorous measure of your ability to keep to the point, so keep a calm, measured tone, but don’t be afraid to occasionally let your passion for what you do shine through.
Calm comes from your knowledge of yourself, your skills and experience and how they relate to the company you e applied for.
As with all interviews don’t be too alarmed by any possible problem sections of your résumé. If you left a position because of job dissatisfaction, don’t state this—never, ever trash a previous.employer, no matter how justified you feel by the circumstances.
Simply explain that you left to seek a role offering greater responsibilities, at all times turning any negatives into more pleasing.
5. Be Factual
IF THERE are serious red flags on your résumé, do not be defensive when asked; do not lie; and don’t even attempt to bluff, as you will come across as defensive and slippery.
Be straight. Answer any questions factually and don’t dwell on any awkwardness or unpleasantness. If you do, it could create an impression that you have unresolved issues that may manifest themselves in the future, and you might constitute a risk.
6. Nail the Common Questions
THERE is no excuse for being tripped up by common questions. Studying these is one of the fundamental telephone interview tips, simply because the ‘sitter’ questions are so well documented.
It’s almost inevitable that you will be asked: Tell me about yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Why did you apply for this role? You may even be asked about your salary expectations.
Being tripped up by any one of those questions is a mistake, and one you should be at pains to avoid!
7. Your Questions for Them
LAST but by no means least on our list of telephone interview tips is to prepare some questions for your interviewer. As in any job interview, this question is a gift, because it provides you with a platform to demonstrate your curiosity about the company and the role, and, most importantly, to emphasise what you can do for them.
Stay away from anything to do with salary, conditions or anything that’s about what they can do for you. Remember, the phone interview is about determining what you might be able to do for them.
To help you plan, here is another useful list, this time of 10 of the most common questions you can ask at the end.