Resumes, Letters & Interviews

How to Master Telephone Interviews


Don't be Afraid to Pick Up the Phone!

The telephone interview is becoming more and more popular. Many job hunters still get nervous even with a phone interview. Often, the first step in the hiring process is the telephone interview. Read on to learn how to master a phone interview and guarantee you move on to the next step - an in person interview.

Why Companies Use Phone Interviews:

  • the cost is less.
  • the list of questions can be standardized.
  • it can be done quickly.

The aims on both sides of the telephone are limited. The caller wants a selection of qualified candidates, and the process screens out many candidates. If the call is a straightforward screening call, the caller will likely ask about your experience, availability and salary requirements.

Your strategy is to provide facts that support your resume, with some context about your performance. Try using numbers and facts to be effective, however, you don't want to volunteer anything that could disqualify you . Make every effort to sound professional; follow the interviewers lead. If he or she is business like and wants only facts, give only facts. If the interviewer is more conversational, interact and build rapport.

Since you are unlikely to win the job from a telephone interview, your goal is to secure an in-person interview with the person who has the authority to hire. Approach the call with that attitude.

Managing the Telephone Interview

Try to reschedule surprise interviews. Say that you have a conflict and suggest a time you can call back. When you call back, be prepared for the call just as you would for a full-dress interview.

Have Ready

  • Pen, paper, a calculator, your calendar, and water.
  • The job ad and the resume and cover letter which you sent in response to the ad.
  • A list of your accomplishments which relate to the job you are discussing.
  • Short list of questions about the job, company, and position.

The Techniques of a Pro

  • Smile - it comes through in your voice.
  • Speak directly into the phone.
  • Don't smoke, chew gum, eat anything. Your interviewer can hear everything over the phone.
  • Stand up. Your voice sounds stronger.
  • Avoid ah, er, so, hum. This habit is especially noticeable on the telephone. This takes practice, take the time to learn how to avoid filler words.

For a Winning Performance

  • Be aware that the caller can't see you - can't see your hand gestures, can't see you taking notes. Use an occasional "I see" or "I understand" to indicate you are listening.
  • Pace the call. Let the caller do most of the talking, without interruptions. Try to keep your answers to under 3 minutes.
  • Do use the technique of repeating or re-phrasing questions. It tells the caller that you listened carefully, and gives you time to think about your answer.
  • Avoid the simple yes or no; add selling points at every opportunity.
  • If you need time to think, say so.
    You can say, "that's an interesting question, may I take a moment to think before I answer."
  • Compensation issues come at the end of the interviewing cycle, never at the telephone stage. You can truthfully say you don't know enough about the job to state a salary figure.
  • Close with a thank you. Graciously thank your interviewer for taking time out of his or her day to speak with you.
  • Be in a quiet place
  • Use a landline, or at least make sure you have good reception (and your phone is charged). You want to make sure that the employer can hear all of your statements and that you can hear them.
  • Treat a phone interview as an in-person interview. Dressing appropriately will help maintain the air of formality and boost your confidence.