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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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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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