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Phone Interview Tips that Work

In my last post we talked about the screening phone interview, which is usually just a prelude to either an in-person interview or another, more formal, phone interview.

Yes, you may find yourself in a situation where you’re actually formally interviewed by the Hiring Manager on the phone.  The formal phone interview is used commonly for out-of-state applicants and for any other situation where it’s not practical to have the applicant come in for an in-person interview.

Formal phone interviews are also used when several people in different geographical locations need to interview an applicant.  I myself was once interviewed by phone because people in Utah, Washington, and Florida were on the interview panel, so they arranged a conference call with me.  Once I passed this formal phone interview, I had one final in-person interview before being offered the job.  In this instance, the phone was used for everything except the final step.

While the screening phone interview may be made unexpectedly, you will almost always get advance notice for a formal phone interview.  This gives you the chance to prepare properly, just as you would for an in-person interview.  Don’t assume that because it’s a phone interview that it isn’t as important as a face-to-face interview – it is!  It may very well be the single thing that determines whether you become a final candidate, so make sure you’ve followed all of the interview preparation advance I’ve given in previous posts.

And remember: you have the big advantage of being able to have all your notes and advance preparation material right in front of you to help you answer questions.

Regardless of the type of phone interview you find yourself in, here are some tips I’ve gathered, both as a Hiring Manager and as a job applicant.

1.    Stand up and walk around while you’re on a phone interview.  You will automatically sound more enthusiastic and your voice will sound more powerful and confident.

2.    Smile!  Believe it or not, it does come through in your voice.

3.    Have a paper and pen handy, to take notes while you’re interviewing. You can use these notes when answering questions later in the interview. This will show you were attentive and have good listening skills.

4.    Have a copy of your resume and a copy of the job advertisement in front of you.  This will help you answer questions about your resume in terms of the requirements in the job advertisement.

5.     Do not use a speaker phone on your end – but be aware that it’s likely the interviewer is on a speaker phone at the other end, with several other people in the room.

6.     If you know in advance when the interview will take place, be sure you are dressed properly.  This too will show in your voice.

7.    The interviewer may run out of things to say more often on a phone interview than an in-person interview, so be prepared to keep the conversation going by asking questions from the list of questions you prepared in advance and were saving for the end.  Many Hiring Managers are not good conversationalists and they will appreciate your ability to keep the conversation moving smoothly.

8.    It should go without saying, but I’ll say it: don’t smoke, chew gum, eat or drink during your phone interview.  The one exception is to keep a glass of water handy in case your voice gets too dry.

Follow these tips and you’ll greatly increase your chances of being invited to an in-person interview as a final candidate.

Next time, I’ll tell you the very best way to end any interview and what do on your way out.

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