Career Advice, Interviews

4 Steps To Ace Your Next Phone Interview

In an effort to save time and narrow the playing field, more often than not, companies are conducting one or more phone interviews before bringing candidates in for an in-person meeting.

During in-person interviews you are sitting in front of someone; you have an opportunity to engage them – let your personality shine through. Your body language, smile, and ability to connect on a personal level can give you the upper hand; what about an interview over the phone?

The interviewer can’t see you – there’s no opportunity to gauge body language or make the same kind of connection. Despite the limitations associated with a phone screen, when coaching my clients on interview strategies, I teach them to make a powerful impression – powerful enough to get the real deal – an invite to the office.

  • Contact Information: Make sure the phone numbers referenced on your résumé and cover letter are accurate and reflect a way to reach you during business hours.

TIP: Don’t answer calls that are unexpected where you are not in a position to have a confidential and undisturbed conversation. Let it go to voicemail until you can properly respond.

  • Double Check Your Voice Message: Have you ever called someone and heard young children on an answering machine? Cute, but not so professional when looking for a job. How about that music? If the interviewer likes Metallica, it could be great depending on how long he/she has to listen.

TIP: Create a polite and professional message on your home and cell phone.

  • Prep for the Interview Call: Use a reliable land line with good sound quality. Have your résumé in front of you and a glass of water. You wouldn’t want to start coughing uncontrollably in the middle of the interview. Make sure there are no distractions.

TIP: Your full attention is needed to establish rapport. Maintain a relaxed and confident manner. Remember, you are selling your skills and accomplishments during this call.

  • Follow Up: Here is your opportunity to ‘win the holiday turkey’. You have not yet made it to the in-person interview. Thank the person for his or her time and reiterate some of the key points that would make you a unique and valuable addition to the team. Close the call by expressing your interest in continuing the process. Ask about timing for next steps.

TIP: Send a hand-written thank you note via snail mail (US Mail) to help you stand out from the crowd. Sending an email is also advisable; you are striking while the iron is hot.

Just because you are home with your fuzzy slippers and coffee mug, it is not a reason to slack off when it comes to the phone interview. Ultimately you need to treat this just as you would an in-person interview. Let your professional skills and personality shine through to get you that face-to-face meeting.