Phone interviews focus on content, not appearance, so this process can be a real boon for many who may be concerned about age discrimination or judged by the way they look. It does put a whole new focus though on what you say and how you say it, and this brings with it a new set of challenges.
One of the hardest things about a phone interview is you can’t use the interviewer’s non-verbal cues to judge if you should keep talking. To compensate, it’s best to keep your answers brief and allow the interviewer to ask follow-up questions if he or she wants more information.
One Forbes article estimated that up to half of screening interviews take place over the phone and it makes a good deal of business sense. Phone interviews do not require as much time and can be conducted outside the company’s normal work hours, which can be helpful for certain job applicants.
So let’s look at some helpful hints that may help you blitz your next phone interview:
- Practice. Tape record the practice call so you can identify areas to improve and rehearse speaking concisely and clearly.
- Smile! It can help to look in a mirror while you interview—this will help ensure you are expressing emotion.
- Let your enthusiasm come through in your voice. Be mindful of your tone and volume though. Limit “ughs,” ‘umms,” “you knows” and “like” in your responses.
- Slow down. When you are nervous, you are likely to talk faster, which makes you more difficult to understand. So talk a bit slower than you normally would.
- Listen carefully to the question you are being asked before answering, wait until the interviewer has finished asking the question before responding, and make sure you understand the question.
- Use facts in your answers. Be specific with your achievement, statistics, and numbers.
- Keep your answers brief and to the point. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in a phone interview is not knowing when to stop talking. Without seeing the interviewer, it can be hard to know that that he or she is losing interest in what you are saying. So answer briefly, but use verbal cues. For example, “Do you want to know more?”
- Give yourself energy by standing up and walking around during the phone interview. Sit while the interviewer is talking, so you can take notes. But stand when you are responding. It allows you to breathe from your diaphragm, which helps you project your voice.
- Consider interview coaching with a certified interview coach; it can make a world of difference to discuss your expectations and fears with a professional.
- Be sure to ask about what the next step will be.
Finally, don’t forget to write and send a thank you note or email as soon as you are off the call.