These days, many first-round interviews are taking place on the phone. It’s a fast and effective way for an employer to separate out the A-players. So here are some tips to make sure that your phone interview gets you through to the next round – and lands you the job you want.
- Take it seriously. Sounds obvious, but candidates often assume that a phone interview is somehow less important than a “real” interview, so they tend to take it less seriously. Ouch – the only way you’ll get to the next step of the application process is to do well in the phone screen – so be sure you’re on your game.
- Let your personality – and job skills – shine. Having a phone interview means that you won’t be able to make eye contact or read the interviewer’s body language. So, it is vital that you put extra effort into projecting your personality through the phone. Many candidates act stiff and aloof during a phone interview, which naturally puts off the interviewer. Have a winning story on tap to start the call – tell a story that will engage the listener, showcase your skills, and let your personality shine.
- Phone interviews can be short. Especially early in the interview process. You probably only have 15 to 20 minutes to present yourself. Make the most of it. Have your resume and the job description handy – and a good opening gambit.
- Stand up and smile. People on the other end of the phone line are very perceptive. So stand up during your phone interview (your voice will be more dynamic), and smile into the phone throughout the entire conversation (you’ll sound warm and friendly).
- Keep your answers short and sweet. Even briefer than an in-person interview. And tie your skills to business results. Remember, the open job is a problem – and you are the solution.
- Just because the interviewer can’t see you, doesn’t mean you can be doing something else. And no multi-tasking or distractions while on the interview: no eating, no driving, no checking your email or Facebook, no IMing, and no iPhone! Basic rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t do it in a face-to-face interview, don’t try it on a phone interview.
- Choose a quiet setting and a landline if possible. A noisy Starbucks is probably not a good choice. If you’re at home, clear the room of kids and pets – turn the TV and music off. Some people say to never use a cellphone for an interview. While I wouldn’t go as far as saying never, they do have a point. It won’t help your cause if they can’t hear your brilliant answers!
- Don’t even think of doing it while driving. Heard a story – probably an urban myth – about a candidate who was pulled over by the police for speeding during a phone interviewer. Police sirens are not something you want your potential employer to hear!
- Prepare and practice. Many times an applicant doesn’t prepare as diligently as they would for a face-to-face meeting. Prep and practice for the phone interview just as much as you would for a “real” interview” – because it is a “real” interview. Blow this phone interview and you won’t get your foot in the door for a face-to-face interview.
- Ending the interview. Like in a face-to-face interview, thank the interviewer and ask about next steps. Your goal is to get the in-person interview. And send a thank you note that reflects on your conversation – again, let your personality shine through.
Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to that new position.
Sandy Rubinstein is the CEO of the independently female minority-owned marketing and advertising firm DXagency. ClickZ caught up with her to find out about her role as CEO, and what advice she would give to women who want to work in the digital industry.
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