Many companies like to conduct phone interviews as part of their candidate screening process. Making a good impression over the phone is just as important as it is during a face-to-face interview. However, if you’re not used to conference calls and phone interviews, it could also be harder. Below are eight ways to “ace” your phone interview.
#1: Be prepared
Getting stuck in traffic won’t be an issue, but you still need to be prepared. Be ready to take the call on time. If you have to log in to conference call software, do so a few minutes in advance so you have time to troubleshoot if any technical difficulties arise.
Before the call, write down the names of the people you’ll be talking to, for easy reference. When you’re nervous, it’s easy to forget.
You may have to chat for a few minutes before the interview begins, so think about some ideas for professional small talk. The first five minutes of the call can often be the most difficult because they’re less structured.
Before the call, outline your potential responses to common questions. Then, during the call, you can glance at your notes for a quick prompt. In addition, make a list of questions you want to ask. Have a copy of your resume and the job ad on-hand. Take notes during the interview.
#2: Give it your full attention
You might pride yourself on being a multitasker, but don’t try to do other things, like checking your text messages, during your interview. Even if people can’t see what you’re doing, they’ll notice that you’re not paying complete attention. If you’re on video, this is even more important. You must look at the camera and avoid any distractions. Resist the urge to look at your phone.
#3: Look ready
If video is being used, you should pay as much attention to your clothes and hair as you would for an in-person interview. Adjust your webcam so it’s flattering – you want the interviewer to clearly see your face, but not the pores of your skin! Also pay attention to the background. You want a background that looks professional and neat, not distracting. No dirty laundry or beds in the background, please.
Even if video won’t be used, you need to smile. Research has shown that smiling changes a person’s voice, and that hearing this smiling tone can make other people smile.
#4: Find a quiet place
It should go without saying that you should not have the television or radio blaring the background. You also need to do your best to ensure that other noises, like dogs barking, do not disturb the interview. Avoid taking phone interviews from coffee shops or other public places. Go somewhere private. Close the windows to minimize noise from outside.
During a conference call, even small background noises can really add up, so it can be helpful to mute yourself when you’re not speaking.
#5: Get off to a good start
Answer the call in a professional and friendly way. It’s a good idea to identify yourself, just as you would when answering a call at work. Then keep the professionalism and friendliness going throughout the interview.
The interviewer will most likely want to do most of the talking at first, to set up the structure of the interview. If it’s a conference call, each participant should provide an introduction. Listen politely and wait until it’s your turn to speak.
#6: Speak clearly
Speaking clearly is always important, but over the phone, it is absolutely essential. Don’t mumble. If possible, use a high-quality headset to ensure the clearest connection. Monitor your volume so you’re not speaking too loudly or too softly. If you hear an echo, it could mean that your volume is too high, or it could mean that your voice is transmitting through two speakers – for example, you’re talking on your phone, but your computer speakers are transmitting as well.
#7: Don’t interrupt
Without visual cues, it can be harder to tell when another person is done speaking. Avoid accidentally interrupting the other speaker by allowing a brief pause. This will also give you a chance to collect your thoughts and prepare a strong answer.
Conference calls with multiple participants can get especially hectic. If there are multiple candidates on the line, or multiple people with similar voices, identify yourself when you start speaking.
#8: Avoid dead air
If you’ve been asked a question, don’t go too long without speaking. You can say something like “Let me think about this for a moment,” to give yourself more time before you reply.