More and more companies are using telephone interviews to identify possible candidates for a job, especially when they live out of town. Telephone interviewing is not usually a substitute for a good old face-to-face interview, however. They’re a quick and easy way to identify and discount unsuitable applicants. In-depth interviews for senior and managerial positions are ideal when short-listing candidates for a face-to-face interview.
The advantages of a telephone interview are that it can be arranged with little delay, with little disruption to your existing job and you’ll know the outcome quite quickly. However, what you say — and how — will be more important than in a face-to-face interview, so be prepared!
Here are 10 tips to help you be at your best when interviewed over the phone.
1. Be on your very best behaviour
A phone interview is the very best way to check on a candidate’s telephone manner, especially where telephone manner and customer contact are key parts of the role (such as call and contact centres). Sometimes, role play can be used to assess a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.
Even though no-one can see you, smiling will help you to relax and sound positive. Some people also find that standing up while talking on the phone makes them feel more confident.
3. Shut out noise
Make sure your surroundings are quiet and that you won’t be disturbed. Shut the door, turn off the radio – and your mobile.
4. Have pen and paper to hand
Make notes of what is covered — you may be asked the same questions if invited to a second interview.
5. Know your CV
Plan what might be asked in the interview beforehand, e.g. personal details, education, career history, experience. The interviewer will be aiming to match candidates against the job description and person specification so re-read thoroughly.
6. Answer with confidence
Just the way you answer the phone has an impact on the person calling. Talk distinctly and clearly. If you’re not confident in your speaking voice, you cannot compensate for it in other ways.
7. Make a connection
Try to establish something in common. Ask about the caller’s experience with the company or mention something you have read about the company.
8. Let silence be golden
Watch out for awkward silences, umms and errrs, and unintentional interruptions – by either the candidate or interviewer. If you need a minute to compose your thoughts, don’t be afraid to ask for a little time before answering.
9. A two-way process
You should be given the opportunity to ask questions — make sure you have some in mind.
10. End on a positive note
Thank the caller for their time and express interest in the opportunity. (A good touch is to send an e-mail, reinforcing this.) Don’t be afraid to ask what the next stage is.