How to ace a phone interview – 8 steps
Do you want to know how to ace a phone interview?
It’s a fact: phone interviews are on the rise because they are cheap, and an easy way for people to screen candidates efficiently. It takes more time and money – especially for out-of-towners – to interview candidates in person. This means more and more recruiters go for a phone interview as a quick and efficient way of talking to candidates.
At first it may seem this is an easier way of being interviewed. But in many ways, it is more challenging.
If you are looking for a job, you need to be prepared for an interview over the phone. It is probably going to happen whether you like it or not.
Having conducted hundreds of phone interviews, I can tell you candidates make a lot of mistakes. The biggest one is sounding bored or dull. You lose a lot of your personality when you talk on the phone as opposed to meeting someone face to face. Plus people tend to be more assertive during an in-person interview, so the way you come across can be hugely different. Here are some tips on how to ace a phone interview.
Choose a good place
Find somewhere quiet, but avoid places with choppy phone signals. Before taking the call, or if sounds interfere during the call, excuse yourself and turn off anything that is making a noise. Televisions should be turned off and the noisy family member, or friend, should be asked to please be quiet.
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Avoid taking interview calls in public places like a cafe or a restaurant. You can’t control what goes on in these places, so perhaps it is best to always take these calls from home. All the interviewer should hear is your voice and nothing else.
Offer to call the company back if the situation can’t be controlled. Not only can the interviewer not hear you but you lose a lot of expressiveness on the phone, so having a clear line is how to ace a phone interview. You need to work much harder to get energy into your voice.
Standing up helps, it also helps with keeping your attention.
Without the corporate office and direct interviewer contact, you may forget you are in a business situation and start slouching in your chair and getting too casual with your speech. Wearing a suit makes you feel professional psychologically. If you want to know how to ace a phone interview then this is a good one to start with.
Prepare your resume, interview questions, pen and paper and a glass of water. Get together absolutely everything you think you might need. You do not want the interviewer to hear the refrigerator door opening or the clinking of glasses when your best words are coming out.
Just as with any interview, send a thank you afterwards. You won’t be able to trade business cards like in a live interview, so make sure you save any correspondence, so you have at least the person’s name and email. If an assistant sets up the interview, call the assistant to get the interviewer’s name, title, mailing address and email. Don’t forget to thank the assistant as well…
There’s nothing worse than picking up the phone, saying hello, and sounding like Marge from The Simpsons. For morning interviews, make sure you have spoken a few sentences out loud (to yourself, your partner or even your dog) before it’s interview time.
Go old school – talk on a landline
The landline is alien to some of you, but you want to get on a landline if you can. Preferably a corded land line (remember those?). It is better to hold phone call interviews on landline phones, as there will be fewer problems with connections and background noise. I’ve had people’s cell phones go dead or suffer from such severe static that we had to cut the call short. Not a good way to go.
Be alert and engaging
Always keep alert and be pleasant. Your interviewer can’t see you so they can’t tell if you are paying attention or not. Answer with enthusiasm, acknowledge them by saying ‘yes’, or ‘I hear you’ just to let the interviewer know you are still there and focused.
Avoid walking when you’re talking. Your heart beats and you can seem puffed out. The interviewer can hear your breath, and they might feel you are not concentrating. Try to smile too. When you smile, your voice and mood change and, believe it or not, your attitude comes across better on the phone.
Use your notes
Have your resume and application letter next to you during the interview. Your interviewer is also looking at your resume. If you can talk on the phone in front of your computer that’s a good thing.
Remember that the interviewer can’t see what you’re doing. You can Google any subject, so you can look up the company or find the best answer to any question. You could even look up how to ace a phone interview!
Phone interviews are becoming a preferred method for companies to screen candidates. You have little choice whether the employer decides to call you for a job interview. What you need to do is accept the call as a challenge and answer the questions professionally. Follow the phone interview tips above and we’re sure you’ll do great.
It is a good idea to practice how to ace a phone interview as well. Have a friend call you and do a mock interview. After the call, ask for feedback. Every little bit helps you improve your telephone interviewing skills. Recording a call is also a good idea too, because you will have an idea about how you sound and how it could be better. Telephone interviews can be unnerving. By following some of my advice, hopefully it will all run smoother for you.