Tips for a successful phone interview

Phone interviews are a commonly used tool for employers to narrow down a pool of candidates before they invite them for in-person interviews. The phone interview has many built-in potential challenges that you need to be aware of and plan for. With a bit of knowledge you can overcome potential pitfalls.

Review the tips below pull off your next phone interview without a hitch.

*Schedule the phone interview carefully
Clear the room. Be sure to schedule the phone interview for a time when you are unlikely to be interrupted. If you have school aged children, try to schedule the interview to start at least an hour before they come home. Even if you have warned them to come in quietly, most children will make some noise, wake up the cat or dog and generally cause at least a minor commotion. Turn off your call waiting, the TV and the radio and close the door.

*Prepare thoroughly
You need to prepare as thoroughly for a phone interview as for an in-person interview. You will want to research the company and their competitors. The interview will be focused on your previous experience. Read the job posting or description carefully and write down your experiences and skills that relate to each point in the job description. Check out the interviewer on LinkedIn and Google, and try to find things which you might have in common. Did you attend the same college, live in the same town, or share a common interest? Any kind of connections can be helpful in establishing rapport. Have a drink of water right before you begin your call.

*Consider Standing up to talk
Many people find standing will increase your energy and confidence while talking on the phone. I find it helps to pace. Practice answering sample interview questions while both standing and sitting in order to figure out what might work best for you. If you choose to sit during the conversation, tape your resume to the wall or computer monitor for reference. Also, take a few notes that you can refer to during the in-person interview.

*End strong
Many interviewers often seem to rush towards the end of the interview. They generally allot a certain amount of time for each phone interview based on their standard list of questions, and may not have a lot of time for answering your questions. However, make sure you have some questions to ask just in case there is an opening for questions or you are asked if you have any. Be certain that you mention how interested you are in the job, and ask what the next step is in their interview process. If you were not able to find out the interviewer’s email in your research, ask for it now so you can send a thank you.

*During the Phone Interview
– Don’t eat, pour yourself a beverage, smoke or chew gum
– Smile, Smile, Smile – it will project a positive image…even over the phone
– Maintain good posture
– Don’t interrupt the interviewer. This can be a real deal breaker for some
– Give 30 to 90 second answers
– Listen carefully to the questions as they are asked and answer them directly

Follow these simple tips and you’re likely to ace your phone interview. Good luck!

David Lammert

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