Phone interviews or “screenings” are more common than ever. Typically, they are the second step in the hiring process – meaning that your resume was of interest to an employer or recruiter. So if you’ve made it is certainly worth a pat of the back. You’ve past the first step.
Phone interviews help employers further narrow the pool of job applicants to small few that they will bring in for face to face interviews. Remember, the primary goal of a phone interview is to get the face-to-face interview.
As a recruiter, I conduct phone interviews with candidates all day long. It’s one of the best parts of being a recruiter. So with that perspective in mind, here are a few phone interview tips and career advice that will help you ace your next phone interview.
Be Easy to Reach
The best time to start thinking about phone interviews is as you’re starting to send out your resume and cover letter. Be sure that your resume and cover letter clearly include where you can be reached, and check for messages often. Many people use their cell phones. But if you use your home phone and will be on vacation, for instance, be that you can easily check messages while you are gone.
Pay Attention to Your Voice Mail and Email
One common mistake that I find is that people often use their (very) personal answering machine and email address as the contact information on their resume. Let me just say that your music choice on your message is very nice, but please can I have a different number? Seriously, if you want to make a professional impression, this starts with your voice mail. This is one of those simple but important phone interview tips: Clearly and professionally identify yourself on the message. Same with email – consider getting a separate account so that you can have a reasonably straightforward email address and nothing that is too personal in nature.
Practice from a list of interview questions in advance (top 10 interview questions)
Preparation is key. If you’re looking for a job, you should prepare yourself for answering interview questions by taking the time review this list of interview questions here. The real trick — do this before you have an interview scheduled, so you’re ready, as they say, when they call.
Keep Records that Organize Your Job Search HandyWhen your job search is in full swing, you’re actively seeking a many opportunities at once. The last thing you want to have happen is to get a call for the job of your dreams and you don’t remember the details of what you’ve applied for. This is another of my favorite phone interview tips: Maintain detailed records. Record when you apply for a position, send a follow up letter, make note of who you’ve sent letters and resumes to and what jobs a recruiter might be working on with you. Keep within reach of the phone along with a pad of paper, pencil and copies of all your different resumes (and where you have sent them) in one place. Keeping it organized helps you keep your cool during a phone interview.
Return Calls Quickly
If you happen to miss a phone call and receive a message from a recruiter or potential employer, return the call as soon as you can. When you return the call, be prepared to provide your full first name and last name, and let the person know the specific name of the position that you are calling back about. Don’t be surprised if someone answers your call at 7:30 in the evening and wants to do a quick interview on the spot. When a position is hot, it’s hot, and often there are people working late to accommodate candidates like you.
Pay Attention to the Details
Speak slowly and clearly, take the gum out of your mouth, close the door to avoid distractions, turn off the radio or television. You might be dressed casually, but remember that this is an interview! Some people go as far as dressing for the occasion – complete with button-down shirt and tie, but that is not necessary as long as you are focused and professional. Stay focused. Do not answer call-waiting during an interview. It is surprising how often these simple phone interview tips are overlooked. The details make all the difference.
Give Short, Clear Answers
Because of their virtual nature, phone interviews are improved when you stick to the point, providing short, clear answers to questions. Keep your answers to about 90 seconds each. This is easier with practice and emphasizes the importance of early preparation. Go ahead, time yourself in practice! Also, as in more traditional interviews, be prepared to ask questions at the end.
Your smile and enthusiasm shine through even over the phone. This technique actually helps you sound more friendly and cheerful over the phone. To get your energy up, stand up during the call. Although these phone interview tips might sound trivial, they make a huge difference in the way you come across on phone.
Listen and Take Notes
Since you cannot see the person interviewing, listen very carefully. Write down the questions to be sure you understand and stay on track. Take notes about who you spoke with, what you were asked and how you answered. Include these notes in your files to help prepare for a possible follow-up interview.
Remember to say “Thank You!”Immediately after a phone interview, write a brief interview thank you letter. Many candidates forget this step, possibly because of the informal nature of a phone call. Don’t miss this opportunity to make a great impression. Use slightly different wording than a traditional thank you note. For instance, you might lead with something like: “Thank you for your call today about the hospitality manager position. I enjoyed our conversation and have an even better understanding of the job. I am interested in the opportunity to discuss the position further.”
With a little preparation and by following the phone interview tips above, you’ll be ready to “wow” them when an employer calls.
Interview preparation is key to your success. Looking for resources beyond phone interview tips to prepare for your interview? You may also like these articles:
- Interview Etiquette
- Dress for Success – Interview Attire
- The Top 10 Interview Questions
- Twenty Difficult Practice Questions (And Answer Tips)
- 50 Sample Employment Interview Questions
- How to Deal with the Salary Question During an Interview
- Questions You Should Ask During an Interview
- Preparing for a Second Job Interview
- How to Make a Great Impression with an Interview Thank You Letter