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.