10 incredibly simple ways to improve your phone interviews

Job Seeker Q and A

Q. I stink at phone interviews. How can I do better?


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A. My advice: 



Prepare for phone interviews like you would for in-person interviews. Doing so can greatly improve your chances of moving on to the next round. Here's how:


  1. Buy time. If the call comes unexpectedly, state that you are delighted to talk with him/her, but are in the middle of something. Ask if you can speak later and suggest a time (even if it’s just a few minutes later).
  2. Be really ready. Have the following in front of you:
    • A list of stories that illustrate your accomplishments 
    • Your resume
    • The job description (with key requirements highlighted)
    • Your cheat sheet (research) about the company and interviewer
    • A list of questions to ask about the company
    • A list of questions you expect to be asked plus your answers
    • A glass or water
    • A pen and notepad
  3. Set the tone. Choose a quiet place with good phone reception. Use a land line if possible to avoid cell phone interference problems. Make sure children, pets and other possible interruptions are away from the room.
  4. Determine the timetable. Ask how much time the interviewer has to talk. This will help you pace yourself well.
  5. Smile and take a stand. Even though the interviewer can’t see it, smile to project energy and enthusiasm. Also stand or pace to project energy.
  6. Set the parameters. Ask the interviewer, “Who would be the ideal candidate for this position?” Then share why you are exactly that person.
  7. Zip it in the bud. Keep answers to less than a minute.
  8. Take notes. Jot down the interviewer's questions. This will help you write a targeted thank-you note later and also keep you on track.
  9. Close strong. Ask how the process will continue. Say, “Thank you for speaking with me. I’d like to meet you in person. When will you be scheduling the next round of interviews?”
  10. Follow up. Email or mail a thank-you note promptly that refers to details of your conversation. Include specific ways you will contribute to the company if hired. Reiterate your strengths especially in areas where they may have concerns about you. Follow-up by phone saying, “If you need additional information from me to move forward, please let me know.” If you don’t hear back, wait a week and call again. Say, “I want to make sure everything is OK,” as a way to guilt them into letting you know your status.
Other tips
  • Sound energetic and enthusiastic. Choose your words carefully and avoid slang and improper English. Sip water to keep your voice strong.
  • Mirror the interviewer’s style. If the interviewer speaks slowly and softly, do the same. If he/she talks fast and loud, pick up your pace and volume.
  • Learn about the interviewer by checking his/her LinkedIn profile. Also Google him/her. Mention something you have learned about him/her.
  • Don’t bring up compensation. If asked your current salary or salary expectations, say, "I’m sure you have a range in mind. Can you share that with me? If pressed, say, “If I am the right for the job and your company is right for me, I'm sure the offer will be more than fair."
  • Don’t speak negatively about your past company or boss.
  • Emphasize specifically why you want to work for the company and not why you want to leave your current employer.
  • If you don't know an answer, say so, and state that you will call with the answer.
  • Voice your interest. Remember that the interviewer can't see you, so you must verbalize positive feelings.
  • Avoid mentioning personal details such as your marital status.
  • Anticipate difficult questions and determine effective answers. View About.com's excellent question and answer list.
  • Don’t eat, smoke or chew gum. Avoid distracting noises such as running water or typing.
  • Avoid ums and filler words. Instead, pause and formulate good answers.
  • Speak slowly and clearly. Remember that the interviewer is likely writing or typing your answers.
  • Close strong. Thank the interviewer, calling him or her by name.

Most importantly, be really ready for your phone interviews ... doing so can help you ... Get a Job! -- Kathy

What tips, comments or questions do you have about phone interviews? Share them by clicking the headline of this post and adding your comment to the Comment Box or on the LinkedIn discussion board that might have brought you here.

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1 comment :

  1. I feel like buying time will dissuade a potential employer.

    ReplyDelete

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