Phone interviews are part of finding a job. In most cases a potential will employer will want to conduct a phone interview with you first before having you come in for an in-person interview. What most people do not realize how important it is to ace the phone interview as best as possible. For one the phone interview is the ticket to an in-person interview. If you fail to impress during the phone interview there will be no follow-up interview. Second, a strong phone interview can make a follow-up interview a breeze. In some cases phone interviews landed candidates the job offer right away. But there are many traps one can step into during phone interviews and it is important to be aware of the most common issues and how to avoid them.
You will be surprised, but quite a few people will stand in front of a mirror and look at them self during the phone interview. While a mirror is a great tool to prepare for an interview (phone or in-person), it is a bad tool to use during a phone interview. During a phone interview you will need to concentrate on the conversation and the interviewer. By starring at yourself during a phone interview, you will become too much focused on yourself and not the interview. This is like an invitation to make mistakes. In addition, studies have shown that if you watch yourself in a mirror during a phone conversation, you will smile more than normal. While everyone loves to see a great smile, during a phone conversation it makes your speech and words sound unnatural. So, please do not stand in front of a mirror during a phone interview.
There is too much talk
Would you imagine that there can be too much talk during a phone interview? Most people would probably not see this as an issue. After all, all we have to show for is our voice during a phone interview. But the truth is that if you spend more time listening, the better your answers will be. And the better your answers, the better the outcome of a phone interview. Experts recommend a 3 second waiting period before you reply to a question. By using these 3 seconds to think through the answer before verbalizing it, you can cut out unnecessary “ums” and “ahhs” from your phone interview conversation. This rule also applies to in-person interviews. In addition to using the 3 second rule for replies, it is important to discover how the interviewer is leading the conversation. Is he or she talking a lot and you fill the gaps with the missing pieces or are you fed with a question and then have to talk a lot to answer the question? Remember that you need to please the interviewer and if you interrupt him or her, you will not score those important “brownie points”.
Your voice needs practice
With almost everything in life requiring a lot of practice before we can ace it, interviews are not different. Especially phone interviews depend on your voice and therefore you should practice and exercise your voice before a phone interview. You want to sound clear, confident and rejuvenated during the interview. If you can, talk to somebody else in the hour before the phone interview is scheduled. This will warm up your voice and you clear out your throat. A cough drop will help as well. If you do not have anyone to talk to, try to sing a song. When I had phone interviews over the years, I most often sat in my car in the outer corner of a parking lot away from any disturbance. Driving to “your phone interview” location gives you plenty of opportunity to sing your favorite song. Singing now only helps to warm up your voice, it also helps to relax and to reduce the overall stress level before the interview. I recommend rock songs to sing to as it not only helps to warm up your voice, it also helps to energize yourself.
Don’t be too comfortable
While being relaxed a little bit for your phone interview, being too relaxed is not a good thing either. Being too relaxed lowers your guards and opens up room for mistakes accordingly. I do not recommend lying on your bed or a couch for a phone interview. Sitting upright or even standing provides posture that the interviewer can literally feel through your voice. This is important as you can imagine. If you know that you have problems with being distracted and maybe being too relaxed, then switch into business clothing. Wearing business attire puts you into the right mind set to have a great interview.
Scheduling the phone interview
When scheduling the phone interview try to aim for a time of the day where your mind is fresh and full of energy. Some people do not perform well before noon and are most productive later in the day. If that is you, do not schedule the phone interview for 10 AM. Also, schedule the interview with enough time available before and after. If you have to sneak out from work, do it early so that you do not get caught up in an emergency situation and then have to rush. I recommend at least 30 minutes of available free time before a phone interview. You will also need some time for after the interview. Write down details of the conversation so that you can easily remember and follow-up. This is an important step for the next interview. You want to be prepared as much as possible.
Conclusion: There you have it. Just because you are not seen in person, does not make the phone interview less important. By avoiding common mistakes you can open the door wide for a follow-up interview. Be prepared and ready to conquer.