Phone Interviews: How to Put Your Best Voice Forward
Many employers have found a new way to save time screening applicants. Today, more employers are first resorting to a telephone interview before inviting a job candidate to an in-person meeting. With more applicants available for each opening, employers do not have the time to invest in a meeting for every candidate that simply looks good on paper, so the telephone interview is used to screen a candidate and determine if he sounds as good as he looks on paper.
Some of these phone interviews may include standard questions that ask about facts, such as your experience and any specific skills you have. However, there are also employers who dive right into some of the most challenging questions, such as giving you a scenario and asking for your response and plan to handle the situation described.
As a job applicant, there are benefits and disadvantages to a phone interview. Some people are well-spoken and are great on the phone, but in person, their nervousness gets to them. Some are more comfortable speaking in-person and lack personality on the phone. Under both situations, it can be a challenge when you don’t have feedback that may typically appear through face-to-face contact.
Regardless of the situation, you need to put your best voice forward to leave the employer with a good impression. This may be the only shot you have at getting a step closer to securing a job offer with them. Remember that the employer may change their mind about inviting you in for an interview if you fall short of their expectations or leave a negative impression on the phone.
Note that in a phone interview, your intonation is most important in how you come across, so you should be energetic and enthusiastic and change your tone to better engage the interviewer. You should also be prepared to ask some basic questions, although save the big ones for a formal interview.
Take the tips offered here to help put your best voice forward and further advance on an opportunity to a job offer.
- Treat every call you receive as an interview. Phone interviews may not always be scheduled. An employer may call you to respond to your submitted cover letter and resume, and the moment you pick up the phone an interview may occur right then. Most employers will be courteous to first ask you if this is a good time, but that does not always happen. So, if you believe there is a chance an employer may be calling, be prepared by providing a professional greeting on your voicemail or when you pick up. Also be conscious of what the caller may hear in the background if you pick up the phone. If it’s not an appropriate time or place to talk, let it go to voicemail, but try to call back immediately when it is more appropriate for you to talk.
- Talk enthusiastically. Since the interviewer will not see your face, all they have to work off of is the voice you present, so make sure it sounds enthusiastic and energized with confidence. Try keeping a smile on your face as you talk and be aware of your tone and pitch so you do not come off sounding monotone.
- Watch your words. Keep a “can do” attitude when you talk. It will leave a more positive impression than if an employer were to hear, “I can’t,” “I don’t,” or “I haven’t.” Also be conscious of how you speak, to avoid the “ahs,” “errs” and “ums.” You can come across as unsure of yourself and lacking in confidence.
- Use a clear line. Many people list their cell phone number on job applications, cover letters and resumes, which is fine, as long as when the phone is answered you are under good reception. If you are the one initiating the phone call, use a landline to avoid static or dropped calls. Also important is finding a quiet location where you will not be disturbed or distracted.
- Be prepared as you would when you attend an interview in person. Keep in mind points that you can use to help explain how your previous experiences or skills make you a good fit for the open position. Also, always have questions in mind to ask during the interview that show your interest and desire to work with the company. Don’t forget to also keep your resume, a sheet of paper and pen on hand. You’ll need these items for reference or to take notes while on the call.
- Find out next steps. Interviews, whether in-person or over the phone, should end with an understanding of what the next steps are. If it was not covered, be sure to ask. The employer may also view this question in a positive way that you care about this opportunity and have a desire for it.
Remember, phone interviews deserve a follow up thank you note or e-mail to the individual(s) you spoke with – just as you would do after an in-person interview.
Treat phone interviews as important as a face-to-face interview. The impression you make on the phone will also be taken in to consideration when the employer is trying to decide between you and another candidate for the position.