There are steps you can take to make the telephone interviewing process, if not more pleasant, then at least more productive, allowing you to achieve a higher percentage of success.
Remember that this process is the same as a normal interview, except in hyper speed — and without the element of “in person” communication.
Here are some ideas to help you sharpen your telephone interview skills:
- Remember that the person on the other end of the phone may be just as uncomfortable as you are. Concentrate less on your feelings of inadequacy and more on how to make the other person feel at ease. Most people do not like the telephone interview process — remember that it works both ways.
- Smile over the phone. Believe it or not, smiling while you are talking will actually help you sound more “friendly” and open. Many telephone-marketing offices have a mirror on each desk so that their people can always keep this in mind!
- During the telephone interview, you are judged by the same criteria used in an in-person interview, i.e.: self-confidence. Self-confidence is judged differently by phone than in-person (where eye contact, for example, can be an excellent barometer). Instead, you’ll be judged by a much more subtle set of factors — the sound of your voice, your level of friendliness and enthusiasm, etc.
- It is critical that you speak succinctly about your past experiences and accomplishments. Many technical professionals launch into long, drawn-out answers to telephone interview questions. Because they do not have the sense of sight working for them, they are quite unable to tell if the person on the other line has gone to sleep!
- Many people find that the most uncomfortable scenario in a telephone interview is the occasional “dead air” of silence during the conversation. Do you have a list of questions prepared about the company and the opportunity that you can refer to when caught in one of those dead spots? Although both parties are responsible for good communication, typically you should fill dead air time.
- Although you are always judged on your ability to listen well, nowhere in the recruiting process do listening skills become more important than in the telephone interview. You’ll find that your nerves will sometimes make this very difficult. I suggest that you close off all thoughts about whatever is going on around you and concentrate on the words and voice of the interviewer.
- It should be remembered that since so much of your success in this situation is determined by your comfort in the surroundings you are in during the call, make certain that you get yourself situated properly. Perhaps it is by suggesting a time for the call that is after the kids have gone to bed. Or, if the caller takes you by surprise, ask for five minutes to get organized and get a phone number to call them back.
- Don’t ever talk about issues related to potential compensation, company benefits, problems at your current employer, etc., when in the throes of an initial phone interview. This is solid advice for any first-interview situation. It always amazes me when an experienced veteran launches into a diatribe about bad management at their company, or asks the infamous line “What’s the job pay?”