A recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the ratio of unemployed workers to available jobs is still more than five to one. It should come as no surprise then that human resources professionals and hiring managers are inundated with resumes for every position they post. Most do not have time to invite all the qualified potentials in for a personal interview, making phone interviews an increasingly popular tool for narrowing the list of candidates.
If a potential employer has scheduled a phone interview with you, take it as a good sign and an opportunity to impress. You obviously possess the background and experience they’re looking for. Now you just need convince them that you should be selected for an in-person meeting. Consider these five ways to stand out – even over the phone.
1. Be prepared. Prepare for a phone interview just as you would for a face-to-face interview. Review the company’s website. Learn the names of their executive staff, the different departments within the company, and read any recent news you can find regarding them. Formulate a couple of questions you can ask (to show interest and demonstrate your knowledge) if you are given the opportunity. Think about your answers to common interview questions you may be asked.
2. Take the call in a quiet location. Do not interview while driving, having lunch or watching the game. Do not interview while at the mall or the pool. Do not interview in a location with bad cell reception. Ideally, take the interview call in a quiet location where you can focus and avoid interruption and the need to repeatedly ask the interviewer to repeat his or her statements.
3. Pay attention. Many of us multi-task while on the phone –some of us are even pretty good at it. However, this is not appropriate during an interview. Give the interviewer your undivided attention. You may not think that they’ll know that you’re surfing the web or doing the dishes, but distraction will be evident in your voice.
4. Body language matters. No, they can’t see you. However, you’d be surprised by how much body language can affect your tone of voice. If possible, stand rather than sit. This will keep you alert. Keep your muscles relaxed, not tense. Don’t forget to smile –it will keep you sounding enthusiastic and upbeat.
5. Watch your “likes” and “y’ knows.” You want to be intelligent and formal yet friendly. You do not want to speak as though you are chatting up your best friend. Think about what you’re going to say before you say it. If you’re particularly prone to “uhhhhh” and “hmmm” while talking, practicing answers to typical interview questions is one way to break the habit.
Phone interviews are used as a screening tool for a reason. You might be surprised at how many potential candidates fail to take one seriously and, as a result, are disqualified. Treat a phone interview (even a brief one) as an important event. Be polite, friendly and enthusiastic, and thank the interviewer for his or her time. Follow the tips above and your chances of advancing to the next step are great. – By Angela Rose, OnTargetJobs