Did you know that you are now quite likely to be asked to take a phone interview before you actually get a face-to-face one? This is happening with more regularity in order to save time and speed up the short list processing. So, how do you come across on the phone? Here are 7 tips to help you get that dream job.

In a way, this initial step makes life easier for you. You do not have to worry yet about your appearance or whether or not you are having a bad hair day! You do not have to fret about body language, how you shake hands and the complex eye contact techniques.

The bad news is, of course, that speaking on the phone (unless they are using video/ Skype), means that your verbal communication skills move into pole position. Your tone of voice, speed of delivery and your diction all begin to take on stellar importance. It should be no surprise to learn that many big companies are using the phone interview especially for jobs where verbal communication abilities and telephone skills are extremely important.

1. Prepare for the interview.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” –Anonymous

You will be given a day and a time for the interview. Make sure that you will have a private space at that time and that no one else is going to be on the phone! This is fairly obvious, but guard your private space and the phone here like a watchdog.

Your own preparation for the interview is already done. Here is your checklist; these should all be ticked off before the phone rings.  Some companies use a nasty technique in calling before the actual time to get an idea of how organized you are, so be prepared!

  • Know all about the company, their profile, competition and future expansion projects. This is often referred to as commercial awareness. One survey in the UK conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that over a third of employers were dissatisfied with the commercial awareness of graduates.
  • Keep your resume and the job description near you. Have a pen and paper for any notes or questions you want to write down at the last minute or during the interview.
  • Open the company’s website on your desktop so that you can refer to facts and figures easily.
  • Have a list of achievements ready. These should cover a problem you had to face, your decision to take action, how you solved it, and what was the result. These should be be short and sweet and have a beginning, middle, and end. They should be prepared carefully beforehand and match the responsibilities in the job description.
  • Prepare a list of questions about the company and the position because they will always ask you. Companies use these questions to assess the candidates as to their preparation and suitability for the job.

2. Sitting or standing?

Choose which one feels more comfortable for you. If you are standing, it is easier to practice deep breathing when you are nervous. Sitting may also give you more writing space. Make sure that all your papers are on hand and that there is no other clutter around.

3. Smile.

It sounds a bit crazy but when you smile, your voice is going to change and you will come across as friendly, poised and confident. Of course, you will not be able to do this all through the interview, but it is very important at the beginning.

4. Keep water handy.

There is nothing worse than a dry mouth which will affect your diction. Keep a glass of water handy, just in case.

5. Time yourself.

Practice how you would answer typical questions on your strengths and weaknesses and also that awful question about where you see yourself in ten years’ time. The secret here is to limit your answer to each question to about one minute. At the end of that time, ask the interviewer if they would like more details. This is much better than going on and on. The interviewer will have a lot of questions to ask.

6. How confident are you on the phone?

Maybe you use the phone a lot in your present job and you may have honed your persuasion and communication skills to a high degree. If so, then you will sail through a phone interview. But if you are not so experienced or confident, then my advice is:

  • Record yourself doing a mock interview. Ask a friend to be the interviewer.
  • Listen to the recording and notice if you went on for too long on any particular question.
  • Notice how and when you hesitated. Also, ask yourself why you did so.
  • Watch out for repeated use of words like “OK,” “sure,” and “I know.”
  • Ask your friend to give an honest opinion on the clarity of your diction. Don’t worry about your accent. Concentrate on how clearly you speak. Also check your speed so that you are not speaking too fast. That can give a negative impression and come across as glib.

7. Give the phone interview top priority.

You would be amazed at the number of people who try to multitask when on a phone interview. This could be another call on your cell phone or an incoming email. Any distraction on your part could mean that you miss a point in the interviewer’s question, and that could make the difference between getting a face-to-face interview or a polite thank you note for your time.

8. Some companies try calling without an appointment.

This can happen if you have applied to lots of companies. When it does happen, it can really throw you. Keep calm and ask if you can call back. If they agree, this gives you invaluable time to research the company and become familiar with their brand, profile and statistics.

Have you anything to tell us about your phone interview?  If so, let us know in the comments below. 

Check out 20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

Featured photo credit: Peter on the phone for an interview/Sipris Swan via flickr.com

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