Telephone Interview? Make yours a winner.
A telephone interview is a tool for employers to assess whether you are a serious applicant and to decide whether or not to take you further through the application process. They can be tricky because you have one chance only to impress and this has to be done with your voice. Body language, smiles and your personality has to be projected down the phone. But how do you do this? It’s not hard but here are several things that you can do to make your interview a success, so here we go:
Research and plan your telephone interview
It is normal to be nervous before a telephone interview but it will really help if you have done your groundwork. Make sure you research the employer and study the job description carefully. Don’t think you can wing a telephone interview because you can’t. You will be quizzed on the job, you will be asked what you know about the company. This is how the employer is going to assess you so don’t muck this up.
Practice before the interview
Practice makes perfect. Any experience you have had of using the phone in a professional context will help. If you feel you need more experience to build your confidence practice with a friend or relative. Your telephone voice needs to be a little different than your everyday voice. You need to be sure about what you are going to say. Obviously you can’t practice answers to questions but you can practice introducing yourself and telling the employer about your work background and experience.
Control your environment
Turn off the telly, let people know what’s going on, be alone when you take/make the call, make sure there are no interruptions. Have a copy of your CV and a pen and paper handy. All these things are obvious so make sure you do them. What is not obvious is locking the dog out of the room, closing the window to keep out traffic noise and removing the parrot that swears if you have one. Tell everyone to shift out of the room whilst you are on the phone and that includes the kids.
Make sure your environment is right, sit in a chair do not slob on the bed or curl up on the sofa. You want to be on the ball, you do not want to be too relaxed. If you were in an interview you would need to act in a professional manner which would include sitting up straight, so make sure this is how you are when you do your telephone interview. Another little bit of advise is to always have a tissue and a glass of water handy just in case you have a coughing fit or get a dry throat.
Before you take the call take a couple of deep breaths… and smile! It will show in your voice. You will forget your nerves once you are focused on the interview. Additionally remember nerves are natural but the advantage you have by doing a telephone interview is that the person conducting the interview can’t see you and therefore you can be shaking with nerves, but it will not be obvious to the person at the other end of the phone.
Remember you are not talking to your friends, you are trying to get a job so it’s important that you watch your P’S and Q’S. Yeah or nah should not be a replacement for yes and no. Don’t be too friendly but equally don’t be standoffish. Just be as normal as you can but professional. At the end of the interview it is a good idea to thank the interviewer for their time and to ask them what happens next. This will help your case and will impress the interviewer.
Be animated and enthusiastic but polite. Do not be over familiar and don’t start chatting as if you are talking to a friend. Remember to listen carefully and try to be succinct. It’s also probably more important to listen rather than talk. Never interrupt the person interviewing you, do not try to butt in whilst something is being explained or a question is being asked. Listen carefully and formulate your response to what is being said. If you are asked a question you do not know the answer to, be honest and say you don’t know. Professionalism will shine through and will help you get an interview.
Remember this is only a preliminary round
Do ask questions at the end, but this is not a time to discuss salary, training and start dates. If you progress to the next stage you will have a chance to assess the Company in more depth. Asking these type of questions, particularly a salary question at this stage could honestly loose you a job offer. No employer wants someone who is only interested in what they are going to get out of the job, they want someone who wants the job and has a real interest in what they are doing.
Never behave badly
The worse behaviour you could demonstrate is acting as if the interviewer was not that important. We’ve had people who think it’s perfectly acceptable to conduct a telephone interview whilst they are walking down the street or in the supermarket. Well it’s not. You need to be in a quiet place, sitting in a proper chair with your CV and the job description in front of you. Thinking you can do an interview whilst in the park with your friends is really naive. If you want to get a job you need to invest by putting in the time and effort.
So there you go, don’t think telephone interviews are easy, they are not. They are probably the hardest interview you can have. A lot of people underestimate their importance but if you don’t get through this you will not get a shot at a face to face interview and therefore will have no chance of getting a job.