there anything that can be done to make the process, if not more
pleasant, at least more productive? Something that you can do to
achieve a higher percentage of success during the process? Remember
that this process is the same as a normal interview, except in hyperspeed
-- and without the element of "in person" communication.
Here are some ideas to review prior to the interview which will
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.
(4) Avoid verbosity and lengthy unnecessarily detailed explanations
in your answers. Keep your answers short and to the pointand stick
to what you have been asked. Do not get into a long preamble before
you get to the actual answer. This will show clarity of thought
and can be achieved by your preparation. For example, to answer
the question-"Tell us about yourself"- you may have a
lot of information to give but you will need to prioritise. You
could either describe yourself in a few adjectives to cover your
strengths and weaknesses, or you could give a brief outline of your
current employment and your career objectives etc. What you say
should be prepared before hand so that it ensures that your answer
is short and to the point.
Prepare answers to as many questions that you can think of because
there is no fixed duration for the telephone call. Your telephone
interview could vary from a duration of 5-10 minutes to half an
hour or longer. The longer the interview takes does not necessarily
mean a good interview, similarly a short interview does not necessarily
mean a bad interview over the phone. It depends on what your answers
were and how you delivered them. Just remember to keep your answers
crisp, concise and focussed.
Speak clearly and slowly. Be articulate. You have to rely on the
interviewer's listening skills to evaluate what you say, so do not
take any chances in messing up at your end. You have to be sure
that the interviewer has heard and understood what you say, so initially
you may need to be careful about the pace at which you speak. However,
do not concentrate on it so much that you forget what you were talking
Your voice should sound pleasant, friendly and enthusiastic. Since
the interviewer cannot see you, your tone of voice is important
in making an impression on him. Try to sound enthusiastic. Smile
even though you cannot be seen, because you will be surprised how
smiling can improve the way you sound on the telephone! It will
automatically give your voice a friendly tone!
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. Ensure that there are
no distractions such as the blaring noise of the TV set or anything
else at home, while the interview is going on.
Be positive in what you say. You should approach your answers in
a positive way i.e. do not criticise your former employer or give
a negative picture of why you want to leave your current job. You
are obviously looking for a change because you are unhappy with
your existing job, but you can still be diplomatic about the reasons
why! Give the real reasons, but put it across in a positive way
e.g. why you feel the need to move on in your career etc. And if
you are looking for a change because you cannot get along with your
present boss, there is no guarantee that you will get a better boss
in your new job! Be sure why you are changing jobs- delving deeper
into your career plans will give you more convincing reasons for
why you want to quit your existing job.
Ask sensible questions. 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 good communication
seems to be up to both of you, typically that dead air will be your
responsibility to fill. Ask questions to show interest in the job
you have applied for. To avoid just a one-sided conversation on
the telephone, where you just speak when spoken to, if there is
an opportunity, you could ask the interviewer certain questions
about the organisation or the job that you are being interviewed
for. For example, you could clarify the responsibilities that your
job will entail, the number of people working in the group/department
or team that you will be joining. You could also ask what your immediate
priority would be if recruited, in terms of a problem that the organisation
is currently facing in that area, or any project that you may need
to initiate as soon as you join. This will just go to show that
you are a serious candidate for the position, and that you are really
interested in the job.
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. e.g. do not launch into a diatribe
about bad management at your company, or asks the infamous line
"What's the job pay?" avoid initiating any salary talk
unless the interviewer brings it up. Salary negotiations are better
discussed at a later date. Right now it is more important that you
convince the interviewers to short-list you for the next stage in
the selection process, rather than worry about the salary you will
Keep important papers accessible near the telephone. Since you may
receive your telephone call without warning, it would help if you
kept important papers within easy reach of the telephone. As you
cannot be seen, you could quickly glance at the papers for any assistance
that you may need in answering questions that you had not anticipated.
Keep papers such as your resume, the cover letter and any other
information that you may have researched on the employer such as
company size, market share, turnover, job responsibilities etc.,
easily accessible near the telephone. You can use the fact that
you cannot be seen to your advantage in terms of referring to your
prepared points or resume to assist you in your answers. Try not
to stumble over words while answering questions. It is best to be
cool and think on your feet to answer surprise questions. Your preparation
should have taken care of other questions and answers so that you
did not need to refer to anything anyway!
Keep a paper and pen or pencil handy to jot down any points or names
that you may need to, during the course of the telephone interview.
In most interviews on the telephone, there may be only one interviewer
at the other end. However, in some cases, the interview may be a
conference call where a number of interviewers fire questions one
after the other. Sounds unnerving, but don't lose heart! Just follow
the basics- Speak to each person in the same pleasant way, as you
are not aware of the hierarchy at this stage! Answer the person
who asks the question and follow this for each further question.
Ensure you catch and remember the names of the interviewers if they
introduce themselves, and write them down so you can address the
individuals personally in follow-up correspondence.
Research and preparation. Know the company first. Just like no good
lawyer would enter a courtroom without the best preparation possible,
do not go into this potential opportunity without knowing your stuff.
Surely several hours research is worth the effort, when the end
result could be a Job in the Sun ?? Do your homework and you will
have gone a long way to improving the situation. As with your resume
and other information, have it visible for looking at during the
call. If you know the content well enough, it wont make you stumble,
- but will probably serve as good trigger points for further questions
a successful telephone interview is something that matters throughout
your career. At all levels of the organization, the telephone interview
provides a valuable service to the recruitment process. By its very
nature, it is a tool used to help define the job and the potential
that the field of applicants has to fit within those parameters.
Human resources and hiring managers alike all find that despite
how much they may dislike the process, it is an invaluable tool.
these guidelines and then look forward to a good telephone interview!
that your phone ringing?