In the age of Skype, videoconferencing, and social media technology, it is surprising that phone interviews still exist. However, the reality is that most job interviews begin with a phone interview typically with a company human resources representative. Below are a few tips to avoid some common pitfalls:
1) Set-up a proper interview space ahead of time. Find a quiet location in your building or home. Make sure that you have your resume, your interview notes, a clean notepad and pen available to you. Avoid using a cell phone and ensure that you block call waiting or any other distractions from your land-line. Do NOT conduct a phone interview from your car or while driving.
2) Prove your technology works. If possible call multiple people ahead of time and do practice interviews answering questions as you would for a phone interview. Have people evaluate your sound, tone, inflections in your voice, and clarity. Because the interviewer cannot see you, it will be very difficult for them to evaluate your body language or other non-verbal cues. You must ensure that you communicate effectively and clearly the answers to your questions and your enthusiasm for the opportunity.
3) Be Switzerland. It is estimated that as many as 80% of jobs are lost during the phone interview. This is because phone interviews are typically handled by Human Resources. The primary objective of a phone screen is to screen you out not screen you in. Therefore, questions asked are intended to minimize the candidate pool. Make sure to answer all questions in a concise manner with answers no longer than 30 seconds. Avoid becoming too “technical” with your background. Most HR people don’t know the ins and outs of your field. Avoid asking questions about salary, benefits, and time off.
Above all, remember that no candidate will ever be hired strictly from a phone interview. Your goal should be to gain an opportunity to interview with the decision makers. Provide the phone interviewer enough information to forward you to the next round and nothing more.