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How to Nail the Phone Interview

During the hiring process, many employers use phone interviews in order to screen a large applicant pool and determine who should be brought in for a face-to-face meeting. Phone interviews are also often used when interviewing candidates based in other cities, saving on the costs of having the applicant drive or fly into town to interview.
Phone interviews are becoming a common first step in the job interview process, so it is important that you do everything that you can to be prepared for one. In fact, when it comes to phone interviews, you may not receive any warning — a head hunter or hiring manager may simply call you in response to your resume to chat for a few minutes about your qualifications.

Therefore, your best bet is to always be prepared. The following phone interview tips should help you ace your next interview.

Preparing for a Phone Interview

In many ways, you should approach a phone interview in the same way that you would a face-to-face interview.

  • Make a list of potential questions and prepare responses.
  • Rehearse walking an interviewer through your resume and reviewing all of your previous jobs.
  • Make a list of your top accomplishments
  • Think about the best ways to present your strengths and weaknesses

Remember, getting prepared for a phone interview isn’t just about you; you also want to prepare your environment and eliminate distractions.

  • Place your resume in an easy to reach location.
  • Next to your resume, set out your  list of  accomplishments and any other notes that you have prepared.
  • Turn off call waiting; you don’t want to be interrupted during the interview.
  • Mute your computer and other electronics nearby
  • To avoid dropped calls or static, use a land line rather than a cell phone.
  • Keep a pen and paper ready so you can take notes.
  • Close the door and lock it if there’s a danger of someone barging in.

If a recruiter or employer calls for a phone interview when you’re not prepared or will be unable to stay on the phone without interruption, consider asking to reschedule and suggest some alternate times.

Practice Interviewing By Phone

Many job searchers make the mistake of thinking that a phone interview is going to be easier than a face-to-face interview, so they don’t think they need to practice. The truth of the matter is that phone interviews can be tricky.

After all, you can be caught off guard just as easily on the phone as in person. Also, you won’t be able to see and respond to facial expressions and body language, which can feel awkward and throw you off.

This is why practicing the phone interview is helpful. The best way to practice is to role play with a close friend or family member. Remember to tape the interview so you can play it back later. Listening to the mock interview will allow you to hear where you need work and help you identify bad habits like “ums” and throat clearing.

During the Phone Interview

When the time comes for the actual phone interview, the following tips will help you sound more professional and increase your chances of getting called in for a face-to-face interview for the job.

  • Avoid eating, chewing gum, and smoking. An occasional sip of water to prevent dry mouth is okay.
  • Even though you are on the phone, you will still want to smile. Smiling will change the tone of your voice, which can mean the difference between a positive and a negative image.
  • You may want to stand during the phone interview. A standing posture can help you feel more confident and strong, which interviewers will notice.
  • Be friendly, but not overly familiar. Never use the interviewer’s first name unless they specifically ask you to.
  • Allow the interviewer to finish speaking before you answer any questions; be careful not to interrupt them.
  • Keep your answers short and to the point. Remember that you don’t have to answer right away, you can take a few seconds to get your thoughts together. Don’t nervously fill the silence.
  • At the end of the phone call, remember to thank your interviewer. Now is also the time to politely ask if it would be possible to meet in person. Try to set a day and time for your face-to-face session.

Once the Phone Interview is Over

After you hang up,  grab your pen and paper and jot down a few notes.  Write down the questions that you were asked so you can use them to practice for your next phone interview or in-person interview.

You should also make note of how you answered the questions. Which questions did you nail? Which ones stumped you? Analyzing your performance will help you improve for next time.

Finally, you will  want to send a thank you note or email to the interviewer. A good thank you note will express gratitude for the interviewer’s time, communicate your enthusiasm about the job, and reiterate your strongest qualifications for the position.

After reviewing the tips above, you should be prepared to wow any recruiter or hiring manager during a phone manager. Good luck!

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