Job interviews can make anyone nervous. Of course, you’ll want to put your best foot forward and go all out to beat the competition. We’re here to help you with just that. But before we launch into the actual strategy, take a moment to consider this: Are you interviewing in person, over the phone or through Skype?
‘What difference does that make?’ you might ask.
To that we say, “All the difference in the world!”
During a walk-in interview, you will be judged not only based on your replies and your knowledge but also how you present yourself. Your tie length could eventually dictate whether or not you actually get the job! Your expressions and nervous tics could give away your anxiety.
However, if you’ve been asked to expect a telephonic interview, that is good news! It is your chance to create an impression based mostly on the content of the conversation. You’ll be free to kick off your shoes and lean back in your favourite couch during the interview. Additionally, you’ll have the advantage of easy access to your documents and notes during the call. With so much going for you, it would be a shame to lose out for want of a few simple tricks.
How to prepare for your phone interview
Just like any other interview, this one will take some careful preparation:
- Do your research about the company and your interviewer.
- Brush up thoroughly on the topics you are likely to be discussing.
- Write down some questions you expect to be asked and prepare your answers. Rehearse in front of a mirror or with a friend.
- Prepare a few questions you would like to ask the interviewer. The more specific, the better.
- Inform family, roommates and neighbours that you’re expecting an important call and would like not to be disturbed.
- Check the telephone or your mobile phone and ensure that it’s fully charged and functional.
- Organize your papers and place them close at hand.
- Position yourself in front of a laptop or tablet in case you need to look up something urgently.
- Keep a notepad and pen handy to jot down important details.
How to make a great impression during the call
Now that you’re all set, here’s what you can do to make a great impression during the actual call:
- If you’ve been asked to make the call yourself, be perfectly on time. Don’t call too early, as your interviewer may have scheduled their calls back to back.
- Answer the call personally and greet your interviewer. If it’s a different time of day in their part of the world, greet them accordingly and thank them for calling.
- Address them as Mr. or Ms. and use only their last name unless asked to do otherwise.
- Steer completely clear of personal questions and unnecessary pleasantries. Restrict the conversation to professional subjects only.
- Once you have been asked a question, take a few seconds to compose yourself and organize your reply. Use phrases like ‘in my opinion’, ‘in my experience’ or ‘I see’ to play for time and warm up.
- Speak slowly and deliberately. This way you buy yourself time to answer questions and come across as poised, confident and in control.
- Keep your answers clear and concise.
- Keep your tone even and formal. Do not raise your voice even when disagreeing with something that was said. Similarly, avoid humour unless you are given cues from the interviewer.
- Avoid interrupting the interviewer or talking over them. Wait for them to finish what they are saying and then respond.
- Once they’re done asking you questions, request a few moments to ask some of your own. This is your chance to actively demonstrate your interest.
- At the end, thank them for their time and wait for them to hang up before you do. It’s also a good idea to ask when they expect to have a decision, so you know when to follow up.
- Write a brief email acknowledging the interview, expressing thanks once again and saying that you look forward to their response.
- Follow-up with them via phone or email after week or so, depending on the company’s interview process and timeline.
When it comes to knowledge of your subject or your area of professional expertise, we trust that you know what you’re talking about. But if you want to raise a cut above the competition, the little things matter more than you’d think. You may be surprised how much interviewer’s value etiquette when they’ve made dozens of calls and spent most of their day on the phone.
With a little consideration and some effort, you’ll soon ace every phone interview that comes your way. Hopefully, you won’t need to give very many of them.
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