Today, more and more employers are conducting phone interviews before inviting job candidates to an in-person meeting. With more applicants available for each opening, employers do not have the time to invest in a meeting for every candidate that simply looks good on paper.
Phone interviews make it easier to screen candidates. Some of these phone interviews may include standard questions that ask about facts, such as your experience and any specific skills you have. However, there are also employers who dive right into some of the most challenging questions, such as giving you a scenario and asking for your response and plan to handle the situation described.
As a job applicant, there are benefits and disadvantages to a phone interview. Some people are well-spoken and are great on the phone, but in person, their nervousness gets to them. Some are more comfortable speaking in person but lack personality on the phone. Under both situations, it can be a challenge when you donât have feedback that may typically appear through face-to-face contact.
Regardless of the situation, you need to put your best voice forward to leave the employer with a good impression. This may be the only shot you have at getting a step closer to securing a job offer with them. Remember that the employer may change their mind about inviting you in for an interview if you fall short of their expectations or leave a negative impression on the phone.
Note that in a phone interview, your intonation is most important in how you come across, so you should be energetic and enthusiastic and change your tone to better engage the interviewer. You should also be prepared to ask some basic questions, although save the big ones for a formal interview.
Take the tips offered here to help put your best voice forward and further advance on an opportunity to a job offer:
Treat Every Call You Receive Like It Was An Interview
Phone interviews may not always be scheduled. An employer may call you to respond to your submitted cover letter and resume, and the moment you pick up the phone an interview may occur right then.
Most employers will be courteous to first ask you if this is a good time, but that does not always happen. So, if you believe there is a chance an employer may be calling, be prepared by providing a professional greeting on your voicemail or when you pick up. Also, be conscious of what the caller may hear in the background if you pick up the phone. If itâs not an appropriate time or place to talk, let it go to voicemail, but try to call back immediately when it is more appropriate for you to talk.
Since the interviewer will not see your face, all they have to work off of is the voice you present, so make sure it sounds enthusiastic and energized with confidence. Try keeping a smile on your face as you talk and be aware of your tone and pitch so you do not come off sounding monotone.
Watch Your Words
Keep a âcan doâ attitude when you talk. It will leave a more positive impression than if an employer were to hear, âI canât,â âI donât,â or âI havenât.â Also, be conscious of how you speak; avoid the âAhs,â âErrs,â and âUms.â You can come across as unsure of yourself and lacking in confidence.
Use A Clear Line
Many people list their cell phone number on job applications, cover letters, and resumes, which is fine, as long as when the phone is answered you have good reception. If you are the one initiating the phone call, use a landline to avoid static or dropped calls. It's also important to find a quiet location where you will not be disturbed or distracted.
Treat It Like An In-Person Interview
Keep in mind points that you can use to help explain how your previous experiences or skills make you a good fit for the open position. Also, always have questions in mind to ask during the interview that show your interest and desire to work with the company. Donât forget to also keep your resume, a sheet of paper, and a pen on hand. Youâll need these items for reference or to take notes while on the call.
Find Out The Next Steps
Interviews, whether in person or over the phone, should end with an understanding of what the next steps are. If it was not covered, be sure to ask. The employer may also view this question in a positive way that you care about this opportunity and have a desire for it.
Remember, phone interviews deserve a follow-up thank-you note or email to the individual(s) you spoke withâjust as you would do after an in-person interview.
Treat phone interviews as important as face-to-face interviews. The impression you make on the phone will also be taken into consideration when the employer is trying to decide between you and another candidate for the position.
We know how difficult it can be to ace a job interview, on the phone or in person. If you're still not feeling confident in your interview abilities, we can help.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.
It finally happens! The phone rings and, being in active job search mode, you eagerly answer every unrecognized number because it could be your next employer. But at the particular moment, you're at the gym, in line at the grocery store, or picking up your kids from after-school sports.
When the phone rings in these situations, it can be mentally jarring, and therefore difficult to focus. Not to mention you're unlikely to have your resume or other notes in front of you about the particular company. (You did take notes on your company research, right?) So, resist the urge to proceed with the phone interview anyway, out of fear that you won't get another chance. You will, as long as you set the proper tone of this initial conversation with the recruiter.
Here's what to say when an interviewer calls at a bad time:
Answer The Phone Correctly
Since most jobs are going to require that you speak to some other human being inside or outside the company, it's important to demonstrate how you would answer the phone in professional circumstances.
The first impression you give the interviewer should be an indication of the first impression you would give to that company's vendors or customers. Eliminate the awkward five seconds when the recruiter, probably thinking it's you, is required to ask for you, only for you to respond with, “Who's calling?" (or the more defensive version, “Who's this?"). The wrong inflection can make you seem like you're avoiding bill collectors, and the entire exchange slows the flow of conversation. Instead, smile—yes, smile through the phone (people can tell!)—then announce your name.
A simple, “Hello. This is Joe," will immediately confirm to the recruiter they've reached the right person and set the stage for a pleasant exchange.
Express Gratitude And Enthusiasm
Over the phone, your voice, tone, and attitude are the sole criteria available to the recruiter in these initial moments. This is the opportunity you were waiting for, so be happy about it. Regardless of the busy scenario you're caught up in, if you had a second to answer the phone, then you have a second to ensure your tone is positive.
Continue to build on your pleasant-sounding foundation. Say, “Thanks so much for calling. I was hoping I'd hear from you. I've been really excited about this opportunity since I first came across it."
Speak The Truth (Or Something Like It)
Clarify that you can't talk right now, but don't overshare. When you call someone at work who can't speak right now, their administrative assistant says, “She's in a meeting at the present moment," regardless of what the case actually is because it really doesn't matter. Maintain the same level of professionalism—no need to say you're two minutes from completing your 10-minute mile on the treadmill. Your objective is to politely and firmly end the current call.
Demonstrate your professionalism and initiative by setting up the next call. It's like a date. When you ask someone out, if the response is, “No, I can't," then you have to wonder if that means no forever or just no to that particular day. Either way, not a good feeling. But if the response is, “I can't on Tuesday. How about Thursday?" then you have something definite to go on. Apply the same concept to the conversation with the recruiter. Say, “I need to be in a quieter place in order to focus. May I return your call in one hour?"
Phone interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially when you're caught off guard. The next time an interviewer calls you at a bad time, remember these three things. You'll be sure to leave a great first impression and successfully avoid an awkward phone call.
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