Interviewers make a judgement about you within 5 seconds and body language counts for everything. No wonder the interview room can seem scary.
But with so many people applying for jobs, many employers are screening candidates with a telephone interview first. This is your chance to impress based purely on your personality and answers. We have some handy hints to get you through…
Why a telephone interview?
Rather than invite a large army of candidates to battle it out in the interview room, many employers use a telephone interview as a quick and cost-effective way to whittle down candidates in the first round.
It also tests your social skills and telephone technique - if you struggle to express yourself, it may be time to read up on the basics of telephone technique…
It’s all in the prep work
Remember you need to treat this like any other interview, so you’ll still need to research the company and look over your CV to remind yourself how awesome you are.
The best thing about having a telephone interview is you can have notes without the interviewer knowing, so if you think you may stumble or forget things have some answers to questions in front of you if it helps. Just be careful not to quote them like you’re reading a script – you’ll send the interviewer to snoozeville.
Job interview preparation
Pick the right place
Location, location, location. This is key to successful phone interviews. Don’t pick a noisy cafe where all the interviewer will hear is screaming children or rattling china. It’s also not the best idea to try and sneak off for an hour when you’re at the office as you may be overheard. Instead, try and pick a quiet room at home, evacuate any noisy people or pets from it, and make yourself comfortable.
Timing is everything
You don’t want to be messing the employer around before you’ve even met, so if you know that you’ll be unable to answer the phone at certain times - we’re talking work commitments here, not a trip to shops – then let them know as soon as you can. You don’t want the first point of contact with your potential boss to be your answering machine.
Speaking of which, if you have a ‘funny’ answer machine on your phone, delete it. Delete it now!
Look the part
We know it’s tempting to do the interview in your slippers and over-worn pyjamas, but just because the interviewer can’t see you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort. Stay in casual wear and risk sounding too relaxed and sluggish, which isn’t the tone you’re probably aiming for.
Think how confident you feel when you get suited and booted for an interview normally? That’s how you’ll come across if you get all dressed up for the occasion.
Interview dress code rules
Charge your phone!
If you’re using your mobile to take the call (which, let’s face it, you probably are… do house phones even exist anymore?), then remember to fully charge it before the interview. You don’t want the phone to cut out just as you’re telling them how organised and prepared you are.
Stand up and walk around
We know this may sound like daft advice but standing up, walking around and allowing your hands to gesture in a natural way will help you to speak more confidentially and clearly… think of it as interview exercise.
Pronounce your words
Over 90% of an interviewer’s opinion of you is made up of HOW you say your answers; if you speak too fast, too quietly or get lazy with your pronunciation then you may find that half the interview is taken up with the employer asking you to repeat yourself. Not good.
Speak clearly, slowly and project every last letter and the interviewer will hear you loud and clear (just don’t shout!).
A telephone interview isn’t just about showing your social skills, but also your listening abilities. Listen intently: not only to the questions but also to the gaps in between so you don’t interrupt or talk over them.
Don’t get flustered
The interviewer knows that interviews can be daunting, so don’t worry if you get thrown by a difficult question or need time to ponder your answer.
Take a deep breath, think about your answers and ask for a minute if you need to. Interviewers prefer you to take the time to actually think about your answers rather than blurt out a rushed, flustered answer that makes no sense.
Have you ever noticed that smiling can be infectious? And we don’t mean like flu. It can make you feel like you’re on top of the world and generally a happier individual.
In a phone interview, it’s not just what you say but HOW you say it. Smiling when on the phone can positively affect how you express your answers and make you sound like a confident candidate.