Congratulations on your interview! Did we mention that it’s going to be conducted over the phone? The phone interview is a double edged sword. You don’t have to fidget in a waiting room, worry too much about your hair and makeup, or worry about sweaty palms. However, now you do have to fidget in your living room waiting for their call, try to convey professionalism and enthusiasm and gauge their reaction to you without the aid of seeing each other’s faces. That’s not easy. But being prepared can give you a way to avoid painfully awkward interview snafus, and let you use the situation to your advantage.
- Create a quiet, interruption-free environment for yourself. No pets, no kids, no radio or TV on mute. Sit at a desk, upright, not pacing or curled up cozy. You can hear the difference in tone when someone is lounging and when they are communicating professionally.
- Take organized notes on the company, the position, the industry and how your skills and experience relate to all of these. Organize these notes in such a way that will be easy to refer to when answering questions but avoid reading your notes verbatim. And don’t forget to note where you got this information. While discussing the company’s mission, you may want to mention the article about them from that national publication, or what their culture looks like from their online presence. You want them to know you did your homework on them, and you have both questions about what you learned and professional knowledge in this field. Getting to have your notes in front of you is an advantage you shouldn’t waste.
- Because you don’t have the benefit of non-verbal cues, don’t allow awkward, dead air happen (except of course for when they may be taking notes on your responses). Acknowledge each person when you are introduced to the panel, verbally indicate that you are listening, if you have difficulty hearing, it’s ok to let them know the line cut out and ask to repeat, or you can repeat their question or statement back to them. In this same vein, because sometimes there can be a lag in the line, wait two or three seconds after they have asked a question before answering. You don’t want to think they are finished prematurely and interrupt your panel members.
- Have plenty of questions ready, and ask new ones based on the information they give you. This indicates to them that you are really invested in the prospect of this job and will not be a passive team member, but an inquisitive, involved one.
- Be present and do not zone out. It helps to take notes on what they say to keep you in the moment. Not being in the room with your interview panel is all the more reason to try and stay present and actively listening.
- Let your personality show. They can’t see your smile but they can hear it. And showing a little personality goes a long way when they can’t shake your hand and feel your enthusiasm in person.
- All the same etiquette applies, you still should send a handwritten thank you note to your interview panel members and follow up when appropriate.
With preparation and professionalism, the phone interview can work to your advantage and help you get where you want to go.
Joyce Abbott Holds a BA in Anthropology and an MA in Library Science. She has worked in for-profits, non-profits, and local government everywhere from customer service, to librarianship, to corporate records management. She believes the point of life is to never stop growing and pushing yourself into something new. You can connect with Joyce on Linkedin.com!