The phone interview is a common first step in the interviewing process. Employers often receive hundreds of applicants for every position they have open, and the phone interview allows them to efficiently narrow the field of qualified job applicants.
The phone interview is also useful for catching any fundamental mismatches between a company’s needs and a job seeker’s candidacy. A phone interview helps both the hiring manager and the job seeker in making sure that moving forward makes sense.
Your goal as a job seeker is to convince the interviewer that you are worth pursuing further in a face-to-face interview. Phone interviews present a challenge, however, in that all you have is your voice and what you have to say. You can’t observe the interviewer’s body language and you can’t make eye contact, so creating a positive connection is a little harder.
Let’s look 9 ways you can overcome this challenge to make a great impression during your phone interview:
- Smile. There’s scientific proof not only that a smile can be “heard,” but that hearing a smile causes the listener to smile, too. Sales and customer service professionals have always known how powerful a smile can be when on the phone with a prospect or customer. Smile during your phone interview. You will sound more upbeat and engaged and your smile will be “heard” by the interviewer.
- Take notes. One advantage of a phone interview is the interviewer cannot see you, so you can take as many notes as possible without worrying that you’re not maintaining eye contact. Phone interviews can be more brief than face-to-face interviews, and a lot of information will be conveyed in a short period of time. Use notes to capture important details that you can use down the road in the interviewing process. You can also use notes to identify points you want to make about yourself.
- Watch the Verbal Tics. Do you have a tendency to say “like” or “you know” a lot? How about the dreaded “um?” Most people are not aware when they have a consistent verbal tic, but the interviewer on the other end of the conversation will notice it. Will it cost you the job? Maybe, maybe not. However, you want your interviewer to remember what a perfect fit you are for the job. You don’t want them to remember that you said “um” with every other sentence. Be cognizant of your verbal tics. Ask others if you have one. One simple tip: if you know you have a verbal tic, write yourself a reminder on a sticky note and put it near your phone during your interview to help you come across more articulate.
- Tone of Voice. Your tone of your voice reflects your personality and it’s a very important component in moving ahead to the next phase of the interview process. Psychology Today says “a person with a strong, attractive voice has a big advantage over a person with a weak, unattractive voice. A person with a good voice commands attention, gets interrupted less, and is more likely to be perceived as a promotable leader.” Reflect on your own tone of voice and take steps so that you will sound confident and self-assured on the phone.
- Use the Best Tools. Don’t use your speakerphone. It can make your voice harder to hear and it’s more impersonal. If you want to use a wireless headset or other device, make sure it’s charged and works properly to avoid any distractions. Sometimes it’s best to just put your phone to your ear for maximum clarity.
- Listen Carefully. You don’t have the advantage of reading body language so you need to listen very carefully. Remove any distractions from your environment.
- Speak Clearly. Make sure you’re speaking clearly and avoid mumbling. Avoid run-on answers to the interviewer’s questions. Be through, but concise.
- Show Enthusiasm. If you’re excited about the opportunity, convey it. Without verbal cues the interviewer can’t see, for example, that you’re sitting on the edge of your seat. Express genuine interest and excitement.
- Wrap things up professionally. Confirm the next steps with the interviewer. Make a positive closing statement about your interest in the role and take one last opportunity to emphasize why you’re a perfect fit. Convey enthusiasm for moving forward to the next step. And of course, always, always, always send a thank you note once you hang up.
For more valuable information about mastering the phone interview, be sure to download Advanced Resources’ comprehensive guide where you will also find information about preparing yourself for your phone interview, preparing your environment, and the steps you should take afterward.