Ace Your Phone Interview
Phone interviews are a useful tool for potential employers—the conversations help screen candidates quickly and determine who’s worth a face-to-face meeting. So when you’ve sent out résumés, it’s essential to be ready to kick booty when the phone rings. Here’s how.
Know what you speak of. Make sure you have a copy of your résumé, the cover letter you sent, and the job description in a folder near your phone. It’s also nice to add information about the company, the person who may be calling to interview you, and any potential questions you know you’ll want to ask. Be sure to be armed with a pencil and paper for taking notes.
Rehearse your responses. Prep for the conversation by thinking about the job and the qualities a candidate must have. How do your strengths match up? What are your weaknesses? Anticipate questions you might be asked and consider how you’ll answer them. Bounce ideas off of a friend if you’re concerned about a particular aspect of the job description.
Watch your language. In a phone interview, it is important to speak slowly and clearly. Remember, the quality of your conversation and your ability to answer questions is all the interviewer has to go on over the phone. Keep the ums, ahs, and you knows to a minimum (think about the Caroline Kennedy debacle…). Don’t use slang or other informal language.
Think before you speak. Take the time you need to answer the interview questions completely and thoughtfully. Be sure not to interrupt or begin answering the question before the interviewer has finished speaking; there may be more to the question than you realize. If the interviewer calls at a time that is inconvenient for you, while you’re at work or in a noisy environment, arrange another phone meeting in the near future.
Ask for a meeting. If you feel the interview has gone well, be confident and direct enough to request a face-to-face by saying, “Would it be possible for us to meet in person and continue our conversation? I’d really like to have the opportunity to meet you.” If the interviewer says no, or shies away from making a commitment, be sure you understand what the next step will be. Will they call if they want to meet you? E-mail? If you are out of the running, will they let you know? Taking the time to close the deal proves your competence once again. Understanding the next step will help you sleep easier at night—always a good thing when you are on the job hunt.