Telephone interviews are often used to screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for face to face interviews. They are also used as a way to minimise the expenses involved in interviewing International candidates.
- Be Flexible – While you’re actively job searching, it’s important to be flexible on the timings for a phone interview, especially with International positions on different time zones.
- Be Ready – You never know when a recruiter or a potential employer might call and ask if you have a few minutes to talk.
- Be Prepared – Prepare for a phone interview just as you would for a regular interview. Compile a list of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as a list of answers to typical phone interview questions. In addition, plan on being prepared for a phone conversation about your background and skills.
- Keep your CV handy in front of you so it’s at your fingertips when you need to answer any questions.
- Have a short list of your projects & 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 kids and the pets. Turn off the stereo and the TV. Close the door.
- Unless you’re sure your cell phone service is going to be perfect, consider using a landline rather than your cell phone to avoid a dropped call or static on the line
Dos & Don’ts
- Do keep a glass of water handy, in case you get a dry mouth.
- Don’t smoke, chew gum or eat.
- Do Smile. Smiling will change the tone of your voice and project a positive image to the listener.
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
- Do speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
- Don’t talk too much – be short and concise with enough detail for the employer to understand
- Do use the person’s title (Mr. or Ms. and their last name.) Only use a first name if they ask you to.
- Do take your time – it’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.
- Do 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.
- First impressions count
Greet your interviewer with a smile and firm handshake. Give eye contact. Try to make small talk during the walk from the reception area to the interview room. The first 30 seconds are when the interviewer subconsciously makes decisions about whether they like you or not and whether you will fit into the team. It is often suggested that a hiring decision can be made within the first five minutes of the interview.
- Be prepared
Re-read your CV and the job advert just before the interview. Do your research thoroughly: Look at the company website, find out what projects they are currently working/bidding on. You may be asked about the salary you are after so make sure you are decided on this too.
- Mirror their style
Listen to the conversational style of the interviewer. Is it upbeat and chatty or minimal and formal? Whatever their chosen interview style, you should try to mimic this tone.
- Why should they hire you?
Most job adverts will list qualities they’re looking for – a team worker, a good communicator – so it’s up to you to think of examples of how you can demonstrate these skills. Be ready to talk about your knowledge, project experience, abilities and skills. Have at least three strong points about yourself that you can relate to the company and job on offer.
- Be positive
Your interviewer will be thinking about what it would be like to work with you, so the last thing they’ll want to hear is you talking about your boss or current colleagues behind their back. Interviewers like to see someone who enjoys a challenge and is enthusiastic.
- Remember your body language
It is not what you say, but how you say it. During the interview, do not fold your arms and lean back or look to the floor! Sit upright and try to maintain good eye contact. Use your hands and lean forward when making a point. Many people cannot think and control their body language at the same time, which is why you need to prepare.
- Expect the unexpected
Your interviewer may try to catch you off guard: It is impossible to plan for every difficult question, but try to appear relaxed and in control. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if necessary but do not evade it.
- Develop rapport
Show energy, a sense of humour and smile. Being positive and enthusiastic is infectious. Ask your interviewer questions about themselves and any issues the business is facing.
- Clarify anything you are unsure of
If you are not certain what are meant by a particular question, ask for clarification. At the end, ask the interviewer if there is anything else he or she needs to know about. Do not be afraid to ask when you are likely to hear if you have been successful or not.
- Remember your manners
It is better to choose than to be chosen. Tell the interviewer why you are interested in the company and job opportunity. Ask them for a business card and follow it up by sending a “thank-you” e-mail or letter, saying how much you enjoyed meeting them and how interested you are. Take the opportunity to detail the key advantages you bring.