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Tips for a Telephone Interview

Over the past few years the process of finding a job has changed fairly dramatically.  Many HR and hiring managers are a bit overworked and have used a variety of tools to make the jobs more efficient. One of these methods is the use of telephone (or Skype) interviews.

These initial interviews are usually used as a first interview and allow the HR person to gauge the prospective employee’s interest in the job and to discuss some of the basics of the position. Additionally phone interviews are often less expensive and are fairly common for remote positions or when either the recruiter or the employee lives in another city.

As the initial phone interview becomes more common it is important to make sure that you are ready to make a good first impression.

Best tips for passing a phone interview:

  • It is important to note that while the employer may schedule the interview in advance via email, often the call may come as a surprise. If the number of the firm where you have applied shows up on your phone and you are in a location that is not conducive to a phone interview it is better to let the call go to voicemail than to risk a bad interview.
  • Always answer your phone is a professional manner. This is especially important if the call is from an unfamiliar number.
  • Check your voicemail message. While your friends may enjoy your quirky fun voicemail, prospective employers may not find it so amusing. The general rule of thumb is that if you would be embarrassed for anyone to hear your voicemail message, change it.
  • A phone interview requires the same degree of preparation as an in-person interview.
  • Review the job description to make sure you fully understand what the employer is looking for and how you can help meet their needs.
  • Do a bit of research on the company. This may bring up some questions you have but, just as importantly, show your interest in the job.
  • Make a list of your strengths that make you a good candidate for the position. Have this list handy during the interview.
  • Have a list of questions you want to ask the interviewer; tick each one off as you ask.
  • Review your CV. Sometimes during a conversation it is easy to forget such things a dates of employment and specific responsibilities. Keep a copy of your resume on your desk or tabletop during the interview.
  • Be ready to discuss your skills and background.
  • Practice phone interviews. Phone interviews lack the important visual clues of an in-person interview, so it is important to prepare for the unique aspects of a phone interview. Have someone call you and conduct mock interviews. Ask your practice interviewer to point out any verbal habits. It is also a good idea to record the interview and review it.
  • Be sure to enunciate and speak at a moderate pace.
  • Be sure to listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions and responses.
  • Be sure to be in a quiet space with no distractions during the interview. If you have a pet make sure it is in another room; the same goes for kids.
  • Have a notepad and pen handy to take notes.
  • Turn off call waiting or any other feature that can interrupt your call.
  • Landlines are preferable to cell phones. If you have a landline use it so that you avoid dropped calls and poor reception.
  • Don’t chew gum or smoke during the call.
  • Smile when you speak. This actually comes across when you speak.
  • Standing gives your voice a bit more energy.
  • Don’t use the person’s given name unless you are asked to. Refer to the interviewer by their title and surname.
  • Take your time thinking about an answer. Too often people feel that a moment or two of silence is a bad thing. Silence while you compose your thoughts is perfectly acceptable.
  • At the end of the interview thank them for the contacting you and once again express your desire to work with the company. Be sure to let the interviewer know that you would welcome the opportunity to come in for an in-person interview or meeting.

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