Some important phone interview tips
Telephonic interviews are often seen as easier than face-to-face interviews, but the truth is that they are harder. By that I mean, it’s harder to show your brilliance! When you cannot see the person you’re being interviewed by and they cannot get a proper feel for you, it’s more difficult for them to get excited about hiring you. These phone interview tips should get you about as far to your goal of being hired as possible. Yet the best advice is always to try and get at least one face-to-face interview, and also to see the company’s offices where you will actually work.
Before I kick off with some tips, get the basics right. When you are invited to the interview and accept, ask what you need to prepare and double-check the contact details and other information you are given. Make very sure you know who is going to be on the call and the exact date and time. Sometimes, in the past, I’ve even asked for a different number just in case the one they give doesn’t work. I’ve then also made sure I have the company’s switchboard number with me, just for emergencies.
Be prepared and research
There are some questions that are almost always asked in an interview. The first is usually a brief description of you or your career. Be ready for this by summarising your career in a minute snippet and practising this with friends and family to get it concise and full of information. Have your CV printed out and some notes on how to describe your projects and work that you have done. Ensure that your CV has your achievements on it already and that you mention these throughout the interview.
The company and interviewers should have information about themselves on the Internet. Go and research them and note everything you can find. Sometimes you can even break the ice by saying something like: “I see you mention on LinkedIn that you windsurf in your spare time – I live in a top windsurfing area in my country”. You can also find the latest news on the company and speak about this.
You should also prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Some of these will pop up during the interview, but the best plan is to write some down before it starts. There must be some things you want to know.
Venue and equipment
Many job seekers simply wait for the call at the right time, without any preparation whatsoever. That is quite dangerous. First off, you need to be very sure that the call will be technically alright and occur without interruption. Find a quiet place with absolutely zero distractions to make or take the call. The best is usually a room in your own house. Then, make very sure that you have good mobile reception or data signal (for Skype interviews). Does your cellphone have enough battery power? Is your laptop plugged in? All these are crucial and often forgotten about by candidates. Lastly, if a Skype interview, what does your background look like?
Further equipment that is needed is a pad and paper to take notes on. You do not want to interrupt the interviewer, but may think of a question – write that down too. If it is possible to record the call, why not do so? You can learn from your responses and also have a record of the details you may want to recall later.
Respond well and stay positive
Over the phone, while you cannot see the other person, it is very easy to pick up on their mood and tone of voice. Thus, your voice will project very clearly how you feel about a certain question, answer or topic. Try your very best to stay upbeat during the entire phone call. Being prepared does assist you here, but simply realising how great your phone interview opportunity is should help you get there.
Another key point is to keep your answers short. 90 seconds is the longest any answer should last and the responses must actually answer the questions – stay to the point! Telephonic interviews often see job seekers rambling along without sticking to the topic of the question.
As with face-to-face interviews, a follow-up email to the interviewers (and HR is necessary) is very important and also an excuse to mail the line manager directly if you haven’t been in touch with him or her already. This can be done on the same day, but regarding feedback, give the company a few days to respond before asking them for feedback. Remember, nearing the end of the interview, to always ask (1) what the next step is and (2) whether or not they need to know anything else to know that you can do the job. This will allow you and them to have an expectation on when the process will move to the next step.
These phone interview tips to get you through your interview smoothly and successfully.