Based on my own experience with phone interviews, both as an interviewer and an interviewee, I have compiled some obstacles and ways to overcome them.
No non-verbal communication
Most people use nods and uh-huhs as indicators that things are on track. Over the phone these cues are non-existent. If you end up on speaker phone for a roomful of people it's even harder. When they are speaking, they can't hear you at all; and vice-versa.
Keep your cool, pretend they are smiling and nodding their heads off at you. Stay the course!
Keeping track of who is speaking
Again, if you are speaking to a roomful, at the beginning be sure to write everyone's name down. I like to do this in a circle on a blank sheet of paper. I can them imagine them sitting around a table with me. Use names and feel free to ask who asked a question. Usually people will say who is speaking; but not always.
This is a screening interview
The purpose of the interview is to make sure you meet the minimum criteria. Basically, they want to be sure it's worth their time (and yours) to bring you on site.
General interviewing tips
As I tell everyone who is prepping for an interview, there are the must-do activities:
- Make a list of 10 skills, for each skill write out an example that would demonstrate that skill
- Back up everything you say with an example
- Be yourself, relax, breathe
- Learn about Behavioral Based Interviewing (learn more here)
Interviewers believe that past behavior is an accurate predictor of future behavior. They concentrate many of their questions on situations that candidates have encountered in the past. What they want to hear is an illustration of your behavior. To maximize the effectiveness of your answers, try using the STAR system.
S = Describe a situation.
T = Talk about the task.
A = Explain the action you took.
R = Talk about the positive results, quantifying if possible.
Here are some other tips:
- Keep your resume in clear view, on the top of your desk, or tape it to the wall near the phone, so it's at your fingertips when you need to answer questions.
- Have a short list of your accomplishments available to review.
- Have a pen and paper handy for note taking.
- Turn call-waiting off so your call isn't interrupted.
- If the time isn't convenient, ask if you could talk at another time and suggest some alternatives.
- Clear the room - evict the roommates and the pets. Turn off the stereo and the TV. Close the door. CAREER SERVICES OFFERS QUIET PRIVATE SPACE FOR YOU TO INTERVIEW
- Unless you're sure your cell phone service is going to be perfect, consider using a land line rather than your cell phone to avoid a dropped call or static on the line.
- Don't smoke, chew gum, eat, or drink.
- Do keep a glass of water handy, in case you need to wet your mouth.
- Smile. Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice.
- Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
- Use the person's title (Mr. or Ms. and their last name.) Only use a first name if they ask you to.
- Don't interrupt the interviewer.
- Take your time - it's perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.
- Give short answers. Usually no more than two minutes.
- Remember your goal is to set-up a face-to-face interview. After you thank the interviewer ask if it would be possible to meet in person.