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8 Phone Interview Tips You Need To Know To Get That Dream Job

8 Phone Interview Tips You Need To Know To Get That Dream Job

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.

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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!

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  • 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.

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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.

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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. 

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

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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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