So you scored an interview for a plum post with a cool operation that has an on-site nap room. Nice work. But here’s the hitch: They’re conducting the interview over the phone.
This approach—used to screen candidates for a trimmer in-person pool or when remote outreach is the only option—may seem like a blessing, especially for folks with unreliable hair. But phone interviews come with challenges of their own. Indeed, these things might be harder than their in-the-flesh alternatives for the effort they require to stand out in a crowd. Especially if you’re hampered by verbal ticks.
Some tips for acing the phone interview:
- Do a test call first with a buddy or family member. Tell them to go at you hard.
- Make a checklist of stuff you want to say and print it off in 18-point type. Keep it in front of your eyeballs throughout the call. Keep your CV at hand, too.
- Punch up the company’s website and keep the screen open in front of you for the call.
- Do the call from a landline, if you can. If it’s got to be a cell call, make sure you’re in a strong-signal place.
- Lock your dog and your kids in the basement.
- Turn off call waiting so your call isn’t interrupted by buzzing interlopers.
- Get dressed. Even though the person on the other end can’t see you, they can feel if you’re wearing a onesie and Emoji slippers.
- Stand up for the conversation. You project your voice better when you’re on your feet and there’s something about drooping into a kitchen chair that transmits over the phone.
- Use the interviewer’s title (Mr., Ms., etc.); never presume it’s cool to address them by their first name.
- Smile. They’ll hear it.
- Enunciate. Speak slowly enough to be understood (unless you’re interviewing for a carnival barking post).
- Don’t just talk. Telephone calls are also about showing off your listening chops.
- Ask questions about the job that the posting doesn’t answer.
- Don’t eat an all-dressed sub while you’re taking the call.
- Keep a glass of water handy: no one likes a cotton-mouther.
- Listen to the questions carefully. If you don’t get something, ask for clarification. Don’t go tumbling into a response unless you’re positive what they’ve asked.
- Take notes during the call. They’ll give you good stuff to work with for the follow-up.
- Breathe. There’s nothing wrong with taking a beat or two to consider a response.
- Keep your eye on the prize: Close up the interview with a question about meeting in person.
- As soon as the conversation’s done, shoot a thank-you note to the interviewer. Here’s your chance to reiterate strengths and offer up any points you forgot.
At the end of the day, remember this: a telephone interview’s no different from an in-person interview. Dress the same, speak the same, impress the same. And brush your hair, for heaven’s sake.