While there has been a trend towards increased hiring in the US, there has also been an increased number of steps added to the application process. If you are not directly referred to a position (the importance of networking) you often complete an online application as step one. If you pass the computer screening you will be moved on to a phone interview before receiving one of the coveted in person interviews.
I’ve had the pleasure of conducting interviews both in person and over the phone. Whether it is someone’s first interview or not, the phone interviews always seem to make people more uncomfortable. People can often take a phone interview as not serious or let their nerves get the best of them coming across as ill prepared and not a good candidate.
I’ve included a few hints below to help first time or new applicants best prepare for their phone interview.
Before the Phone Interview
- Make sure you’ve researched the company and position you are applying for. Know what the expectations for the position are and how you can fulfill the needs of the company.
- Have questions! A lack of questions about the position, company and culture can come off as a lack of interest in the role you are applying for. You can use the Q and A to get to know more about why your interviewer likes their job and employer. Make sure your questions are not something that could be answered if you had done #1.
- Find a place to have your interview. Having your dog or stranger yelling in the background is not only a distraction to the interviewer, it is a distraction from you and takes away from your answers. It is best to find a place with good phone service, no interruptions and a place you can feel comfortable answering the questions honestly and audibly.
During the Interview
- Dress like you are having an in person interview. This may sound strange but we, consciously or not, have a tendency to hold ourselves differently and act more professionally based on our attire. This doesn’t mean you need a three piece tux to sit on the phone. Wear what you would be wearing if you were having the in person interview.
- SMILE. This is something that has been taught to sales professionals for years. When you smile, you have a different inflection in your voice. People can tell whether you are smiling.
- Give thought out answers but do not over compensate with length. My personal experience has been that because the interviewee cannot read my non-verbal cues, they fill the void with drawn out stories. Keep it short and concise answering the question and giving information on how it is relevant to the current position.
After the Interview
- Ask the next steps. As you conclude your interview, make sure to ask what the next steps will be. This shows interest in moving forward to the next interview. This is also a great opportunity to add on why you think you are a great fit for the job and ask for the next interview.
- Take notes. After the interview, you hope to move forward in the hiring process. Take notes of things you talked about, areas you thought you answered well and areas you could improve on. It is good to also note which examples you used for the questions so you can either expand upon them or have different examples for the next interview.
- Write a thank you card. While you might not know much about your interviewer, you will know their name, the company name and address. Interviewers will also often give their job title or division to help make sure their card is more correctly addressed.LinkedIn is another great tool to make sure you address your card appropriately.
I hope those tips help make the process less intimidating. Like any interview, preparation and being yourself go a long way. Best of luck on your interview and next position!