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Job Interview Article:
How To Have A Great Phone Interview

From time to time we like to publish good job interview articles we find.

Here's an article on phone interviews which we're sure you'll find useful.

Job Interview Article -- How To Handle A Telephone Job Interview

By Scott Beagrie

Telephone interviews are an increasingly popular (and time-efficient) way of pre-screening job applicants to narrow the candidate field before a face-to-face job interview.

And, sooner or later, if you are determined about your career progression, it is an audition you will have to get through, so it makes sense to get up to speed with the fundamentals now.

Where Do I Start?

Your aim for the phone job interview should be to get to the next level, which is to obtain a conventional face-to-face interview.

Take the time to find out about the company interviewing you, and be sure that you have a good appreciation of what the job you are being interviewed for entails.

The interviewer will be looking for evidence that you have fully prepared. As you can't be seen by the interviewer, make the most of this by having your resume or CV and cover letter in front of you to refer to, if necessary.

Also consider preparing a set of bullet-pointed notes about projects you have worked on and specific accomplishments, to use as a crib sheet.

Importance Of Timing

Make sure you choose an appropriate time and find a comfortable and relaxed setting to take the phone interview call.

Jane Horner, HR consultant at the Osler Partnership, recalls occasions where candidates she has interviewed have taken calls during their lunch breaks and needed to go outside the building for privacy and ended up losing reception on their mobile phones.

"I would advise you not to put yourself in this position, but rather to schedule the call for a more convenient time when you know you will be in a quiet, uninterrupted location without the concern of being overheard," she suggests.

This also gives you the chance to relax and gather your thoughts before you take the call.

Making An Impression

As visual clues are lost on the phone, candidates have to rely on verbal ones to build a rapport with the interviewer, which can make the prospect of a telephone interview more intimidating.

But Horner says if the interviewer has prepared sufficiently, the call should have a clear purpose, and you will be guided through the questions, which in itself is a good way to overcome such hurdles.

"Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer and provide clear, well thought-through answers to give them the information they require," she says.

Etiquette And Protocols

Although telephone job interviews tend to be fairly swift affairs, make sure you proceed slowly enough to form a clear picture of what the interviewer wants to know. Actively listen and keep your interview answers brief and relevant to the question.

"If a job interview is conducted well, it should be a controlled conversation in which you are the active participant," explains Horner. "Speak clearly and allow the interviewer time to make notes and probe further on your answers."

Also try standing up -- an erect and confident poise will help you come across more confidently.

Use Roleplay

Acting out a telephone interview scenario with a friend or trusted colleague can help you gain insight into your technique. It may highlight areas in which you fall down, such as listening skills, tone of voice or how authoritative you sound, enabling you to refine specific skills accordingly.

Horner also recommends conducting research relevant to whichever stage of the job interview process the call aims to address.

"For example, an initial screening telephone interview may just require evidence of a role's baseline competencies, while a final interview conducted over the phone will delve far deeper into your employment experience and suitability for the role," she says.

If you only do 5 things

  1. Research the organisation and the job thoroughly
  2. Minimise the risk of distractions
  3. Speak clearly and concisely
  4. Remember, first impressions still count
  5. Listen carefully and keep your responses relevant to the question.

We'll continue to publish more good job interview articles as we find them.

If you have a good job interview article you'd like to publish here, please contact Catherine.

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