● By Mel Sim
Do them all and you’re basically hired!
Fact: Many companies actually start the interview process with a phone call to discuss the job opportunity and more importantly, to gauge if you’re a good fit. And it may be a surprise phone call so it pays to be ready and professional all the time.
Why a phone interview? Think of it as a preliminary interview – and an efficient way – to screen potential candidates and narrow down the pool of talent for in-person interviews. Sometimes, it is a way to interview candidates who are out of town. It may even be the only interview you’ll have before you’re hired.
Whatever the reason, the phone interview is just as important as the actual face-to-face interview for you to impress and ace. So here are some tips to use when that call comes in.
#1 Prepare for a phone interview as you would for a regular in-person interview
Do your research. Review the job description. Think of your strengths and weaknesses. Prepare some questions ready to ask the interviewer. The best part about a phone interview is that you can have all of the above and more (like your resume and cover letter) in front of you to be better prepared.
#2 Get ready for the call
Confirm all the details – date, time and who you’ll be speaking to. Find out if you’re the one calling or the interviewer (it is usually the latter). Ten minutes before the call, find a quiet and private space so you can focus on the call. Missed the call? Quickly call back to apologise and get back on track. The recruiter doesn’t call on time? Don’t panic – the call is definitely coming and you don’t want your anxiety to show.
#3 Use a landline instead
That way, you won’t have to deal with poor reception, dropped calls or any other interruption that may cost you your interview. Remember to turn off your cell phone! Using your cell phone instead? Make sure it is fully charged.
#4 Listen, then talk
The problem with phone interviews is you can’t see the visual cues of when someone is about to speak or stop. Do this – let the interviewer speak first before you interrupt. Take time to digest what he or she is saying before answering. Don’t rush through your answers.
#5 Body language counts
Even over the phone! Stand or sit straight; this actually makes you sound more alert and focused. Smile as you speak – believe it or not, your interviewer can hear the difference and it makes you sound more interested. Don’t tap your foot, don’t walk up and down – it makes you sound nervous and unsure.
#6 Give it your undivided attention
You won’t be checking your phone for messages or chew gum during an in-person interview. Don’t do it either during the phone interview – your interviewer can sense that you are distracted and take it as a sign that you’re not interested in the job.
#7 Make a lasting impression
Be polite. Keep your answers short and to the point. Cut out the uhms and ahs. Be confident. Most importantly, be positive and take charge by thanking your interviewer for the call and reminding her or him why you’re the person for the job.
#8 Finally, send a thank-you note!
Like an in-person interview, a thank-you note after your job interview not only confirms your interest in the job position but lets the interviewer know you are professional. Do this the next day and make sure it is a brief note that includes a thank-you message and reaffirms your ability and desire to do the job. You may not get a reply but don’t be too quick to send a follow up. Give a week or two. After that, write one last email to state your interest again and see if there is any follow up to your interview. After that, it is up to the interviewer to let you know the outcome.
For most places anyway, and this means travel time!
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