Mastering Phone Interviews – the big Do’s and Don’ts

With phone interviews becoming more popular, knowing how to convey yourself over the phone is important. With the absence of eye contact and body language cues, prospective employers have to rely solely on your voice to gain an impression of your personality.

So how can you prepare? How can you ensure that you make the right impression through your voice alone?

The big Do’s of phone interviews:

  • Prepare – you should prepare in the same way you would for a physical/traditional interview. This means:
  • Making a list of all your strengths and weaknesses;
  • Put together a list of questions you want to ask.  NOTE: NEVER say you haven’t got any questions as this makes you look as though you aren’t engaged/fully interested in the post;
  • Compare your qualifications to the job description and see where they match – this will enable you to give examples of why you’re a strong candidate for the job as you can prove your worth;
  • Prepare a copy of your CV, highlighting key dates where you held relevant posts or showed key skills that will benefit the post.
  • Practice – we all use the phone, so it is natural to assume that you have got your phone skills down. However, there is a difference between chatting to friends and family and talking to a prospective employer. Because of this, we recommend rehearsing questions over the phone with willing friends or family members. They can then feedback on how you do, including the impression you made and instances when you faltered or mispronounced words.

Should these prove to be an issue, these practice sessions can help you to improve the way you speak, as well as make you more aware of moments when you stumble or take too long to answer a question.  Another tactic you can try is recording your answers. This will enable you to see yourself from the employer’s perspective, and identify how often you umm and ahh, or when your nerves get the better of you.

  • Ready yourself – once you’ve practiced it is important that you find out the details for the call i.e. timings. This will enable you to set a 15-minute alarm before the interview, so you can place yourself in an environment where you can easily focus and not get distracted.

The big Don’ts of phone interviews

  • Pick somewhere busy/noisy – all the preparation in the world will do you no good if you’re in the wrong place when you take the call. For instance, you shouldn’t be driving or somewhere busy/noisy as this will distract you from the interview and will make you sound distant/disinterested in the call.

Likewise, if you take the call but then find yourself in a situation where you cannot finish it (for one reason or another), then you will come across as unreliable/disorganised – which will leave them with a negative impression of your character.  To avoid this, we recommend finding a quiet room and putting a do not disturb sign on the door. Similarly, it is important that you take the call and don’t let anyone else answer it. Again, to stop this from happening, inform your family or housemates that you are expecting a call and to let you pick it up.

  • Introductions – when you answer, don’t just say hello. Also give your full name and make sure that you speak positively. This will ensure that the interview knows they are speaking to the right person;
  • Don’t interrupt – you should never interrupt the interviewer.

As there will be no visual cues it is essential that you listen to the entire question before you give them a response.

A handy tip is keeping a notepad nearby, as this will allow you to jot down ideas as they come and stop you from interrupting them. This will also help when you’re given complicated questions that come with multiple parts, as it will minimise the risk of you forgetting or needing them to repeat the question.

Likewise, you shouldn’t speak until you know the answer and how you want to respond. Obviously, you cannot be quiet for minutes at a time, but a brief pause to collect your thoughts is allowed.

As you can see, preparing for a phone interview doesn’t have to be daunting. Simply take the right steps to prepare and you can ensure that you showcase your skills and qualifications with ease.

For more advice on how to enhance your employability and improve your skills, check out our online courses.

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