As you would for an in-person interview, take a phone interview seriously. Phone interviews are an impersonal form of contact which means you have to work even harder to impress your interviewer, especially if it is a preliminary round to screen and eliminate a large pool of candidates of which you are one of. Over the phone, you will also miss out on the nonverbal cues of your interviewer that can help you to adjust your responses. To make sure your phone interview is a success, consider these tips.
The length of the phone interview may vary. Make sure you have enough time to accommodate late calls, possible distractions and long interviews. To reduce the risk of potential interferences, before the interview you can disable extra phone features or plan to use a land-line to cut out the possibility of a disconnection or bad cell signal. Take the call in an environment where you have more control to decrease the likelihood of unexpected situations or disturbances, preferably at home. Turn off the television and all appliances that may go off and inform people around you if you're not alone of your scheduled engagement.
While you should go over notes and practice beforehand, take advantage of the fact that your interviewer cannot see you and prepare "cheat sheets" for use during the interview. Have all materials nearby for quick access including a physical copy of your resume, the job description and a bulleted list of items you may want to cover. Cross out and take notes as you go along. On a computer or laptop in front of you, open a web browser window of the company website and a tab of a search engine in case you forget or need quick access to information you don't have on hand. However, be as discreet as possible while you are typing.
A phone interview doesn't mean you get to slack off. Increase concentration by getting into the right frame of mind before the interview and for the duration of the time. Go the length to dress nicely, watch your body language and choose your location wisely. Even if your interviewer cannot see you, don't be too comfortable that you are slouching or lying down during the interview. You can sit at the kitchen table or a desk with prepared materials in front of you or nearby. Being alert in body and mind can allow you to concentrate on transmitting enthusiasm and interest over the phone.
When it comes down to nailing first impressions, it's not possible to start the phone interview with a firm handshake, eye contact and a smile. Your limited options of making your first introduction over the phone becomes extremely important. Once you receive the call and pick up, start off on a positive track and help set the tone for the interview. Open with a greeting and identify yourself to immediately let your interviewer know that they have reached the correct person and that you are prepared and ready.
If a request for a phone interview comes randomly and you are not prepared, don't charge through the interview on guts alone. Let the caller know you will contact them back and give yourself time to quickly prepare yourself. You can also reschedule the interview for a different time so that you can get ready beforehand. If during the interview a situation occurs where the temporary use of the mute button won't solve the problem, let your interviewer know. Your honesty is much better than allowing them to draw their own conclusions from you being distracted.
Remember, a phone interview is one of many steps in the hiring process it takes to getting hired. Be as thorough, well-rested and mentally prepared as you would for an in-person interview.