As many as one in six job interviews now begins on the phone. Companies looking to save time and money choose to pre-screen applicants on the telephone rather than with a face-to-face meeting.
For some, this development is good news. Imagine sitting at home in sweatpants and flip-flops, drinking coffee from a favorite mug, and still interviewing for that dream job. Other applicants who do much better in an actual meeting may regard this trend as a lost opportunity.
No matter your point of view, the phone interview may be a necessary step in your job search. See it as your chance to shine so that even before the conversation is over, you will be assured of winning that in-person interview.
My advice? Prepare for that phone interview as you would were it an actual interview – because it is! The goal here is two-fold: to impress the interviewer with who you are, and to get that face-to-face interview. (We’ll discuss this next time).
Do your homework. Learn about the company, the people, and the position you are applying for. What strengths will you bring to the job and to the company? In the days of search engines like Google and Bing, employers think it insulting not to know the basics.
You won’t have to worry about what to wear or bring to the interview, but there are important ways to prepare:
- If you can, always use a landline. If you don’t have access to one, then charge your cell phone or plug it in. Yes, it’s a bad thing if your phone drops the call.
- If you are on a cell phone, find a quiet area to sit and make sure the connection is excellent. One more time – yes, it’s a bad thing if your phone drops the call.
- Get some water ready. You don’t realize how dry you may get when you are talking for a length of time and your adrenaline is pumping.
- Get your resume out, your cover letter, notes, and any correspondences along with blank pieces of paper and two pens. Yes, two pens, you know one always runs out.
- Tell anyone in the house or location not to walk in or disturb you. Pets should be out of barking distance.
Now comes the hard part. Stay focused and listen. Listening is as important to an interviewer as speaking. If the person on the other end of the phone feels you are interrupting or not paying attention, you are less likely to make it to the next round.
Speak confidently and be yourself. It does help to be conversational even when talking about your accomplishments. Rehearse beforehand and go through a list of possible questions. Be positive. You may find that you actually enjoy speaking to the person on the other end of the line.
Before you hang up, make sure you have the interviewer’s contact information so that you can send a “thank you” as a followup. (See my previous story).
Jason Veduccio is a hard-working entrepreneur following his dreams, and he wants you to dream, too. Drawing on his experiences working with companies on marketing, technology, hiring, and workplace issues, his regular column will demystify the job search process and identify strategies for moving up the corporate ladder. Founder of In1Concepts, Jason also knows the ins and outs of launching a new business. He welcomes your questions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.