Phone interviews are a really practical, low cost way for recruiters to narrow the field of candidates pretty quickly. It is a great way to screen the initial field of candidates and make some preliminary decisions about setting up face-to-face meetings. If you learn how to ace the phone interview, you improve your chances of getting your resume moved from the “possible” pile to the “yes” pool.
During a telephone interview, the employer is mostly verifying the information you have on your resume and whether you like it or not, the recruiter is evaluating your communication skills. If you have had your resume written by a professional resume writer, make sure the language used on your resume is still representative of your own “voice”.
All that being said, here are 10 ways to ace your next phone interview:
1. Find a quiet spot to do your phone interview. The last thing you want is to have distracting noises in the background, be they children, pets, music or just a noisy street or subway car.
2. Do not accept phone interview calls at your current work place or office, during working hours.
3. If you are using your cell phone, find a place where signal strength is strong and stay there until you finish the call. I know it’s 2015, but this is something we still have to worry about.
4. Speak clearly and watch your tone and energy level during the telephone interview. One seasoned recruiter from a Big 4 Accounting firm shared with me that job seekers who sounded drowsy or low energy usually were not called again.
5. Be professional and polite in your phone interview. If you are on a speaker phone, acknowledge everyone who might be in the room. Watch your use of slang in your phone interview.
6. Be prepared to explain everything you have on your resume including dates of employment, career transitions and employment breaks.
7. Listen carefully. Since you are not in front of the recruiter, you can’t read their body language so it is very important that you listen carefully and answer clearly.
8. Ask questions in the phone interview. The most important question you should ask is when you will be able to schedule the face-to-face or SKYPE interview and move you one step closer to getting the job offer.
9. Smile. Your pleasant persona will actually come across over the phone. A fellow call center manager with whom I worked several years ago actually kept a mirror in her desk drawer. You knew she was on the phone with an irate customer when she took it out.
10. Be very clear about the next steps when you get off the phone. Wrap up by clarifying details about the next steps for you as a job applicant. Do not get off the phone before restating your interest in the position.