Phone interviews are tough for a lot of people, whether you consider yourself a “phone person” or not. I love talking on the phone but it can be hard getting through an interview not being face-to-face. You can hear the interviewer typing your answers out and may have lulls in the conversation while he or she does so. You can’t read his or her reaction. And if you don’t come across as well over the phone as in person? It’s even trickier.
There are a few things that can help:
- Pick the right time. If a recruiter calls you out of the blue after seeing your resume online or getting your number from a connection, it’s okay to (politely) let them know it’s not a good time and you’d like to take time to read the job description/research the company/come up with questions/not be at work before talking further. As long as you’re courteous about it (and actually answer when they call back at the scheduled time!), it shouldn’t be an issue. Likewise, make sure that if you are scheduling a phone interview in advance, you do it for a time/place where you’re comfortable.
- Be energetic. Practice making your voice sound excited and happy. Never answer the phone with a rude “HELLO? Who is this?” Smile when you’re speaking; it comes through in your voice. When you don’t have a physical presence and dressy clothes to impress your interviewer, make your voice shine.
- Avoid distractions. Don’t interview in front of your computer while surfing the internet. Try to be in an area free of pets, children, or other obvious distractions. Make sure you’re in an area that has good phone reception if you’re speaking on a cell phone; try to avoid taking the call outside. Try to avoid putting the interviewer on hold or answering an incoming call unless it’s an emergency. They’re taking time to speak with you, so extend them the courtesy of giving them your time.
- Remember it’s just like an in-person interview. Do your research. Think of the strengths and accomplishments you want to share. Look over the job description and come up with examples of your relevant experience. Take a look at your resume if you need a refresher on long-ago jobs. The benefit of a phone interview is that you can have all of this with you to refer to while interviewing – just be careful not to seem unorganized or loudly rustle paper.
- Don’t be too informal. Sometimes a phone conversation might seem less formal than a face-to-face – after all, you aren’t nervously sitting in front of someone, wearing an uncomfortable suit. Make sure you still treat it like an interview: sell yourself for the job, ask good questions, avoid asking too early about salary and benefits, and avoid speaking ill of former employers. All the usual interview tips apply, even if it seems like a more informal conversation.
- Send a thank you note! Even if you just had a conversation out of the blue with a recruiter who got your name and number, if you want to move forward with the position – or just do the nice thing and thank them for their time – send a quick email thank-you. It will always be appreciated.