Guest Post: Acing the Phone Interview

This is a guest post by Melissa Crossman

Everyone knows that you have to ace the interview to get the job. Most people focus on the in-person interview, usually one of the last steps in the application process.  But you may not get to the in-person interview if you don’t do well in the phone interview. Because of the lack of face-to-face interaction, phone interviews present a special set of challenges for applicants. Below are some tips to help job you sail through the telephone interview and into the office for a face-to-face meeting.

  • Learn to use the telephone skillfully. During a telephone interview, the interviewer can’t see your facial expression or watch hand gestures. To compensate, applicants must ensure that their enthusiasm for the position comes across in other ways. Speak directly into the phone. Make sure your volume is appropriate and that you enunciate clearly; the phone tends to muddle your words. Avoid chewing gum or smoking, and keep a glass of water near in case you need to clear your throat. Clear the room of noisy distractions such as the television, children and barking dogs.
  • Details are important. You should be prepared to provide the employer with detailed information about your education, skills and previous jobs. You can keep a resume to you during the interview for support, but always review the information in advance to prevent a lag in the conversation. Because the interviewer can’t see you, you can also use notes to help you remember important projects or details about your performance.
  • Employers focus on skills. Education and previous jobs are both very important to employers. But be sure to also emphasize your skills. For example, an applicant with a degree in mathematics applying for a position as a financial advisor should be sure to mention the finance courses he took while pursuing his degree. This allows the employer to see the connection between the applicant’s education and the responsibilities of the position he hopes to fill.
  • Highlight life experiences and character traits. Employers want to hear about more than just an applicant’s education. Life experiences and good character are essential to success in the business world. When given the opportunity, you should discuss the life events and personal traits that are relevant to the position you hope to land. For example, if you took online classes to earn a degree, you can emphasize the self-discipline and initiative that was required to complete the courses.
  • Demonstrate problem solving skills. Regardless of the position, applicants are always more valuable when they are able to think logically and solve problems. During the phone interview, you should look for an opportunity to provide examples of how you’ve used problem solving in previous experiences.
  • Talk about technology. In today’s world, using technology is an essential skill, and can serve as a proxy for how well you adapt to change. You should make an effort to talk about your comfort with technology and the software programs you know well, especially those that are relevant to the position and industry-specific.

Today’s job market is extremely competitive, and applicants who fail the phone interview may not get another chance to demonstrate their relevant knowledge and skills. With careful planning and strategic responses, you can breeze through the telephone interview and get one step closer to an offer.

Melissa Crossman lives in Indianapolis with her two dogs. She blogs on behalf of American InterContinental University.

1 thought on “Guest Post: Acing the Phone Interview

  1. Thank you, Melissa! You offered excellent advice. To prepare for an unexpected surprise phone interview, like one I experienced, I suggest:

    In addition to having a resume handy 24/7 for reference, buy a wirebound set of index cards. Pre-fill the cards with headings (your’s are ideal) and summaries of employment information, as in your post. Then, if you are caught off-guard by a surprise phone interview, as I was, the notecards serve as a great assist to your memory, to recall key details, during the interview.

    Your post just helped me solve this problem. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. Proves two minds are better than one. Thanks again, Melissa!.


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