Attending a phone interview for the first time can be quite intimidating, especially if you don't know what to expect. It can be tempting to treat a phone interview as less "formal" or "important" than a face to face interview and if that is where your head is at, your expectations are most likely incorrect.
If you have a phone interview scheduled, do yourself a favour - follow these tips and go into your interview fully prepared and with the best chance of nailing it!
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare!
I have written a full blog post about preparing for an interview. I suggest you read it, take note and don't skimp on the preparation!
2. Choose a quiet place for your interview and stake it out beforehand!
When you are choosing a location for your phone interview, you want to make sure not only that it is quiet, but that it is free from distractions. Ideally this will be at home, in an office where you won't be interrupted or even in your car. If one of these options isn't available, you should consider these points:
- If you are taking your phone interview outside, make sure you are in a spot that is not directly impacted by the elements - wind and heavy rain will affect your call quality, whereas direct sun for a long period may make you feel uncomfortable. Nobody wants to get sunburn, am I right?
- Are you in a place where you have privacy? You don't want to run the risk of being interrupted by a passing colleague. Nor do you really want your conversation to be overheard. Especially by your boss or a colleague who doesn't know you are looking for a new job.
- Does the location have adequate phone reception? You certainly don't want your call to be dropping in and out because you are in the basement of a building or out of phone range.
Wherever you choose to take your interview, you should ideally check it out in advance to make sure it is suitable. Make sure you visit at the same time of day as your interview so that you have an idea of how many people will be around and what the potential distractions could be.
3. Confirm who will be making the call.
Your phone interview was scheduled for 3:00pm but it is now 3:05pm and your phone hasn't rung. Did you confirm that your interviewer would be calling you and not vice versa?
Usually the person conducting the interview will be the one to make the call, but this is not always the case. Better to safe than sorry - confirm the details before it is too late. It would be a shame to get marked down because of a miscommunication.
4. Consider using hands-free.
A phone interview could last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour - or even longer if your interviewer is a chatterbox! If you are holding your phone to your ear for that long without a break, you are likely to end up with a cramp in your arm and a crick in your neck. Avoid this by using a Bluetooth earpiece or corded headset. If you don't have one, consider purchasing one. There are loads of affordable options and once you give it a try you will probably find that it will be useful in your day-to-day life.
5. Test all of your technology in advance.
Are you following my advice in point 4 and going hands free? Perhaps you are connecting via Skype rather than a traditional telephone? You might even be video calling using a web cam. Regardless of which technology you choose, you should test it prior to your interview and make sure you have a backup plan in case of glitches. I would suggest calling a mate or a family member to test it all out and make sure that you know how to use any controls - do you know where the volume button is in case you need to turn it up a notch?
Don't forget to make sure that all of your technology is charged so that you don't run out of juice in the middle of your interview!
Don't let technology get in the way of your phone interview. Test, test and test again!
6. Turn off all notifications and alarms.
Have you ever been on the phone with someone who had notifications and alarms ringing during your call? This will be distracting and annoying for you and your interviewer. Turn off all alarms and notifications before your interview - don't let this throw you off your game!
7. Shut down your computer.
I know, you might be tempted to keep your laptop handy so that you can do a last minute Google search to bail yourself out of a difficult question. Take my advice. Don't even. If you start using your computer in the middle of your interview, two things will happen:
- Your interviewer will know! You either know your stuff or you don't and if you try to do research while you are on the phone, you will look incredibly deceptive.
- You will be distracted. No matter how good you are, I promise you, that in an interview situation your computer is nothing but a distraction. Do you want to be fumbling over your words or struggling to keep your thoughts straight because you don't have your eyes on the prize? I think not.
8. Do not EVER eat or smoke while you are doing a phone interview.
Ever. You might think that you are puffing silently or squishing the food quietly between your teeth, but no. It doesn't matter how stealth you think you are. You wouldn't light up a smoke or start munching your lunch in the middle of a phone interview, so don't do it in a phone interview either. This also goes for chewing gum. No ifs or buts.
9. Keep your body language in check.
Smile when you are on the phone. Why? Well, because science says so. Smiling doesn't only have a psychological impact, it has physiological benefits as well! 84% of your message during a phone call is received through the tone of your voice and smiling helps to open up your throat, which improves your tone. This can make you sound more warm and receptive.
For similar reasons you should make sure you're sitting upright - this is the best position to ensure you are getting enough oxygen, which can also affect your communication.
10. Slow down and enunciate your words clearly.
It is one thing to sit up straight, but if you don’t enunciate correctly, your message could fall on deaf ears. Literally! It is far more difficult to hear and understand someone on the phone rather than face to face as you don't have any visual cues to help you interpret the message and you are relying solely on tone for context.
Sometimes when we are nervous it is natural for us to start speaking faster. It is important that you are aware of this so that you can make a conscious effort to avoid it. Slow down and speak clearly to make sure that your whole message is getting across.
11. Dress to Impress!
So, this point is more psychological than physical. You know the saying, "Dress for the job you want"? Or what about "Dress your best, work your best"? If you dress for an interview, you are more likely to perform well during your phone interview. Sure, you might be more comfortable in your tracksuit or pyjamas, but professional attire will boost your confidence and make sure you are "in the zone".
Some people might argue with me about this one, but having worked in a call centre environment that insisted on professional dress for this reason and in other workplaces that have embraced a more casual dress code, I know what a difference your presentation can make to your professionalism, confidence and productivity.
12. Clarify Next Steps
At the end of your phone interview it is a good idea to clarify your next steps. Personally, where possible, I would like to meet potential colleagues face to face before accepting a new role. I just like to look people in the eye. If you are the same, it might be worthwhile to ask if a face to face interview will be part of the interview process?
Regardless though, clarifying next steps is a good move, even just to give yourself some peace of mind. Knowing recruitment timeframes will also be handy in case you are interviewing for more than one job and have multiple offers on the table.
You need these 12 hot tips for your next phone interview, my friend!
Well, that's 12 hot tips for you and I know that if you follow them, you will have a much better chance of impressing at your next phone interview. Do you have any other advice for a phone interview? Make sure you share it below!