What will employers be looking for in a candidate during the phone interview?
Employers use the phone interview as a screen test to see if candidates are fit for the job and sometimes to see if the candidate qualifies for an in-person interview. Some candidates agree to a phone interview out of curiosity rather than true interest. So, be sure to highlight your interest in the position offered without appearing too eager.
First impressions are paramount, especially in telephonic interviews. Although you don’t get to see your interviewer and impress them in person with your winning smile or sleek business suit, you have one big asset – your voice– so find ways to use it to your advantage!
Pay special attention to the tone and delivery of your message because it accounts for 38% of effective communication, according to a survey by Sugarman Medical and MIND, a national provider of medical and mental health professionals in the UK. Apparently besides the big role body language plays in the communications mix, exuding confidence and telling clear, cohesive stories about your experiences and interpersonal skills can influence the interview in a big way. Remember, it’s all about what you say and how you say it so practice, practice, practice.
Here are some tips on how to prepare for a phone interview
1. Do your research
Find out as much as you can about the job position you applied for and about the company as well. Use that knowledge when answering the hirer’s questions as it shows that you are keen and more importantly, it strengthens your chances of advancing to the next phase of the interview. After you have completed your research on the job position and company, look up common phone interview questions and best ways to answer them. In order to eliminate awkward pauses during the phone interview, practice your answers and have a phone interview script or cue cards ready.
2. Set the scene
Choose a quiet location for your phone interview in order to avoid any distractions and to reduce ambient noise. Double-check your telephone and internet connection to make sure both are stable because the last thing you want is to experience dropped calls during the phone interview. Have a notebook or a paper pad and a pen ready so you can take down quick notes throughout the phone interview. Remember to have your cue cards or phone script nearby and any other questions you prepared beforehand. It’s also good to keep your internet browser open in case you need to make a quick search during the phone interview.
3. Address the phone interviewer by his or her name
Once you’ve been introduced to your interviewer, immediately address them by their name in your first sentence. For example, you could say, “Hi Mr. or Ms. …….., thank you for calling.” This tactic will quickly establish a sincere and respectful rapport.
4. Project confidence
Be confident and stay positive during the phone interview because you want to show that you are prepared. Remember to sit up straight and speak with a smile during the phone interview because your voice will sound friendlier when you speak with a smile, and sitting up straight allows you to come off as being alert.
5. Don’t interrupt
If you interrupt the interviewer, you will only annoy and provoke them, so be careful during your phone interview. Let the interviewer finish their sentence or question during the phone interview, even if you think that you can finish it for them. Allow the interviewer to lead with the questions and answer them with quick and thoughtful replies. If you need a second, don’t hesitate to start your answer by repeating the question. This will give you more time to collect your thoughts and provide a thoughtful answer. Remember for your initial phone interview, let the interviewer ask all the questions first before you proceed to ask about the company culture, job details and job expectations.
6. Ask when unsure
If you didn’t hear the question properly or need to clarify what the interviewer meant, don’t be shy to ask him or her to repeat the question. The interviewer will appreciate the fact that you want to be accurate and thorough in your replies. Be sure to avoid asking any questions about salary especially if the telephonic interview is the initial step in the entire interview process.
7. Be proactive
Ask the phone interviewer about the next steps in the process so that you are aware of the employer’s overall interview process. Make sure to indicate your interest in moving forward in the process and how you would like to attend an in-person interview. Part of the success in landing another interview is actually asking for it.
8. End the phone interview with a thank you
Before the interview ends, be sure to thank the interviewer for taking time out to interview you. For example, you could say, “Thank you Mr. or Ms. …… for being so generous with your time.” Don’t forget to ask for the interviewer’s email and immediately send a follow-up thank you email.
Spend some time to review whatever notes you took down during the phone interview and think of some follow-up questions to ask. Save them for when you are called in for an in-person interview or the next phone interview. Don’t forget to add some notes to your personal phone interview tips list so that you can continue to nail your phone interviews. Record the dates of each interview so you know when to send follow up emails to ask about your application.
Remember for the next phase, the focus should be on how you can add value to the company so be prepared to talk about what value you can bring to the company as well as what value they can provide you.
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