If there are a large number of good candidates for a role it is common for the employer to have a round of phone interviews to further filter candidates, in a cost and time efficient way.
Even though you are not face-to-face with your interviewer in a phone interview, you need to be just as well prepared.
Here are our top tips for a good performance in a phone interview…
1. Schedule the Time
Normally, your interviewer (or their assistant) will contact you to arrange a suitable time to have the phone interview.
Suggest a time that works for you, when you know you will be able to find somewhere quiet and away from distractions.
It is a good idea to ask how long the phone interview will take so that you can block the required amount of time in your schedule.
It is unlikely, but if the employer calls you out of the blue and wants to perform the phone interview right there and then, it is probably best to politely request that you schedule the call for another time that suits you both.
That way you can make sure you are away from all distractions and are suitably prepared.
If you sound disorientated and unprepared on an un-scheduled call it won’t do your chances any good, so don’t take the risk.
2. Be Ready
At the scheduled time, make sure you are in a quiet place without any background noise, free from interruptions, and without anything that could distract you from the interview.
Also make sure that you can keep your surroundings like this for the required length of time. It doesn’t sound good, for example, if you have to move to another place mid-way through your phone interview.
Have a copy of your resume / CV and your application form (if applicable) printed and with you before the time of the call, as well as any other information you may need (e.g. notes on your pre-prepared answers).
If you are taking the call on your mobile phone, make sure that you are in a place with a strong signal and that you have plenty of battery life, or a charger to hand.
You might also want to consider using headphones with a mouthpiece as it could be a lengthy call, and holding your mobile phone to your ear could get uncomfortable after a while.
Just as with a face-to-face interview, you should have answers prepared for common questions and some examples prepared of where you have displayed relevant skills in previous jobs.
3. Be Responsive
In a face-to-face interview you have the relative luxury of being able to see your interviewer and how they are reacting to the conversation – facial expressions and body language.
You don’t have this luxury in a phone interview so you need to be more responsive to any signals you pick up in the tone of voice of the interviewer and the language they use.
When providing your answers, it is a good idea to round off by asking if you have answered their original question, or if they have enough information on that point.
By doing this you are encouraging feedback that you would normally be able to get non-verbally, and this gives you guidance on when to move on and when to provide more detail.
4. Be Expressive
Just as you don’t have the luxury of being able to see your interviewer, they can’t see you either.
This means that non-verbal messages that you would normally send when talking, such as movement of your hands, is lost on the interviewer.
To compensate for this, you should talk expressively to let the interviewer know that you are enthusiastic about the role and that you are an interesting person.
By all means, do get passionate and inject some energy into your voice. But do take care not to speak so quickly that you come across as being nervous – speak deliberately and purposefully, without being monotone.
5. Confidence and Patience!
Because of the lack of visual contact, it can be quite unnerving to have periods of silence on the phone.
However, don’t be afraid to take a moment or two after being asked a question to come up with your considered response. This is normal in a face-to-face interview situation, and it’s also normal in a phone situation too.
If your interviewer is any good, they will recognise that you’re simply taking a moment to think about your answer.
Similarly, once you have provided your answer, don’t be worried by a short pause from your interviewer before they respond. It is likely that they will be scribbling notes and they will be right back with you in just a second.
So, to maximise your performance in your next phone interview be sure to:
- Schedule a time for the call, rather than being caught on the hop;
- Take the call in a quiet place, with everything you need easily to hand;
- Respond to any verbal feedback you receive – it’s more difficult to know how you’re doing without any visual feedback;
- Use the tone and volume of your voice to express yourself, as you don’t have the luxury of using body language to support what you’re saying;
- Relax – don’t let the lack of face to face contact make you panic or worry.
Phone interviews are usually followed by another round of interviews, normally face to face so you may want to consider how to dress for a job interview, the importance of making a good first impression, and some questions to ask your interviewer.