July 7, 2009

Tuesday Tips: How to Ace a Phone Interview

Interviews are nerve-racking enough, but telephone job interviews, for some reason, really seem to throw job seekers for a loop. Perhaps it’s the lack of visual feedback. Maybe it all boils down to phone anxiety (which I never thought this was a real thing until my husband informed me otherwise!)

Whatever the reason for the nerves, phone interviews are a challenge that job seekers will need to learn to overcome. An increasing number of employers are choosing to conduct their first round of interviews over the phone to save time and money.

If you want to improve your phone interview skills, try following these 5 tips:

Stand up
Public speaking coaches tell us that people speak more clearly and confidently when they are standing up. So, get up out of your chair and stand up during your interview. You may also want to invest in a hands-free set of headphones, so you can gesture naturally with your hands.

Find a quiet spot
Phone interviews may not be as formal as face-to-face interviews, but you still don’t want a three-ring circus going on in the background. Don’t try to multitask during your phone interview — schedule a time and place that you can be free of distractions.

Draft some talking points
Since your interviewer can’t see you during a phone interview, you can feel free to have as many “cheat sheets” as you want. Spend some time before your interview trying to anticipate possible questions — and thinking about how you want to highlight your skills, education, and accomplishments. Jot down some notes and remember to refer to them throughout the conversation.

Do your research
Just like in a face-to-face interview, you should come prepared to a phone interview. Research the company and the person who will be interviewing you. Start your search online, but don’t be afraid to use your networking connections to learn more about your potential employer. The more you know, the better you can anticipate questions and frame your answers.

Keep a question in your back pocket
Whether in person or over the phone, almost every interview ends the same way: “Do you have any questions for us?” Be sure you have at least one intelligent-sounding question prepared for this situation — and take notes during your conversation, since good follow-up questions may arise during your back-and-forth.

What’s your ace in the hole for handling telephone interviews?

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