November 16, 2017

Dial in a win: Secrets to successful phone interviews

Resources , Three Things , Etiquette , Business Communication

We recently saw a Facebook post from an executive with a national non-profit organization. She was interviewing candidates for an open position on her staff when she wrote this:

Phone interview tip: When you are interviewing for a job, I suggest you do not, I repeat, do not run errands while you are on your phone interview. Or multitask, hail a cab, walk your dog, or do dishes.

Surely, we thought, this is the rare occurrence. But her post was quickly followed with comments from a slew of others who’d experienced similar things:

OMG. Yes, this!

Had it happen to me as well.

With an audible flush

We should do a hiring managers support group.

Apparently, the best approach to phone interviews isn’t as obvious to people as we thought. So we turned to our resident expert, Katie Pope. She suggests these three things you can do to be more successful when you’re interviewing for a job by phone:

1. Just like face-to-face interviews, show up with a plan.

For any job interview, Katie says you should:

Research--"Find out about the company, their product and services, and even your interviewer," says Katie.

Anticipate--Think of the questions you expect to get and your answers. "One of the great things about a phone interview," Katie points out, "is that you can keep your resume, your notes, and the stories you want to tell in front of you."

Prepare--Specifically, prepare some questions for the interviewer. "Thoughtful questions about the company and the position show you’ve done your homework and are serious about the position." For a phone interview, Katie reminds that being prepared also means to have your cell phone charged and that you make sure you’re calling from a spot with good reception.

2. Make an extra effort to focus.

Because you don’t have the benefit of face-to-face interaction to hold your attention and to read theirs, it’s more important to focus when you’re interviewing by phone.

Katie’s suggestions include:

  • Find a quiet place for the conversation.
  • Visualize the interviewer if you can.
  • Listen carefully and understand the questions before answering.
  • Allow yourself time to think before answering. Though you may be tempted to keep the conversation going by phone, a moment of silence is okay.

3. Don’t be too casual.

Katie sees this as the biggest potential pitfall of the job interview by phone. "Often we say things on the phone we would not say in person," she says. "Don’t offer up criticism of your evil boss or obnoxious co-worker. Don’t volunteer that your desk is right next to the bathroom."

That also means don’t multi-task. No checking emails, surfing the web to shop, or clearing out your desk drawer while you chat.

"We’re so accustomed to doing this when we chat with friends," says Katie, "but that casual attitude can do more to derail your interview than you might imagine—as that Facebook post perfectly illustrates."

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