Contrary to what one might believe, a phone interview can be even more nerve-wrecking than a traditional, face-to-face interview. Without being able to see your interviewer, it can be difficult to gauge how you're doing, and showing your enthusiasm visually is impossible. With phone interviews becoming more commonplace during the early screening process, it's more important than ever to brush up on your skills.
Prepare Your Area
If you've ever tried to conduct an important phone call in a chaotic environment, you know how important it is to prepare a quiet space prior to your phone interview. Your area should be quiet and secluded enough for you to be able to speak at a normal volume without a lot of background noise. You should have enough space to sit, stand or pace around the room. If needed, make sure you have an excellent Wi-Fi or cell phone signal. Have a copy of your resume, cover letter or work portfolio handy to refer to during your call.
During the phone interview, it's important to focus only on the conversation. It will be obvious to the interviewer if you are trying to multi-task, so try to avoid any distractions during the phone call. Close your computer, disable any cell phone notifications and keep your to-do list out of sight. Practice steady, deep breaths to calm your nerves and relax your voice. Pay attention to the other person's tone of voice, and modify your own tone of voice to complement it. Don't be afraid to pause when you get a tough question; it's OK to gather your thoughts for a few quick moments before diving in with a response.
One of the biggest advantages of having a phone interview is the ability to use and take written notes during the interview to help you remember important information. Write down the most important highlights from your own work experience that you want to emphasize. These notes needn't be verbatim; it may sound too rehearsed. Instead, try writing "workplace culture" or "performance evaluation" as a clue to keep you abreast of the topics you want to discuss.
Before the interview, take the time to research the company and jot down a couple of thoughtful questions. Make sure you don't ask anything that a simple Google search could answer. Dig deep and find out what's important to the company and how your experience could support the company's goals. Asking questions at the end of a phone interview shows how interested you are in learning the company and becoming a part of the culture.
Even without visual engagement, your phone interview can greatly affect the way a potential employer "sees" you. Maximize your phone interview etiquette by creating a clear, private space where you can focus on the conversation, pay close attention to the interviewer, mind your tone and ask the right questions.
Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net