12 Steps to Making Your Next Telephone Interview a Success

12 Steps to Making Your Next Telephone Interview a SuccessThe telephone interview has become a very common step in the hiring process. Typically, the goal of a telephone interview is to secure an in person interview, so you have to be prepared to sell yourself and your skill set.

Sometimes you will know when to expect your telephone interview. Other times you will be caught off guard. Use these 12 steps to prepare to convince the caller that they want to consider you, whether you are expecting the call or not.

 1. Research

If you have a scheduled telephone interview, you want to know as much about the employer (before the interview) as possible.

  • Read the job posting. Take notes- know how well you meet the qualifications and prepare to discuss how you don’t.
  • Review the company’s website. Make yourself aware of and ready to talk about any current events listed.
  • If you have a LinkedIn profile, look up the company and anyone you know works for them, especially the person you will be speaking to. (If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, refer to step 8)
  • Google the company and their products/services.
    • Use this information to form questions you can ask at the end of the interview, or whenever you are given the opportunity.

This research will help you do well during the interview, but will also help you decide if you will be happy working for this employer.

2. Make sure you can take the call when it comes

If you know when to expect the call, make sure you are in a quite comfortable place, where you can focus and not be interrupted.

If you currently have another job, DO NOT take the call in your work space. Your current employer or a co-worker could interrupt the call. This is not a good way for your employer to find out you are looking for another opportunity. Find a quiet, private space away from your office.

As mentioned previously, you will not always be able to schedule the call. Have a plan for when it comes. You may have just gotten out of the shower, or are dropping off your kids. Whatever the situation, politely explain, and ask to schedule the call for later that day. However, if you sense any hesitation, plunge in and do the best you can.

3. Have any information open/ready

Having easy access to the company and job information will allow you to confidently respond to questions without fumbling. Have the company’s website open, a copy of both the job description and a copy of the resume, or application you submitted in front of you before the interview starts.

4. Take notes

Keep a notebook and pen with you, so that you can take notes during and after the call. Before the call, write down the date and time you are expecting it, and what time you actually received it. 

During the call, do the following:

  • Write down the name and title of who you are speaking with.
    • If this information if it is not volunteered, ask for it
    • Confirm the correct spelling
  • Focus on giving good answers. If you can’t get down everything you feel is pertinent information during the interview, write keywords that you will be able to use to write it all out after the call has ended.
  • Ask for and write out the next steps in the interviewing process.
  • Note any commitments you make for after the call.

After the call, do the following:

  • Write out any pertinent information you noted, but couldn’t fully write out during the interview.
  • Write out anything that seemed particularly important to the interviewer.
  • Write out anything you felt was disappointing to the interviewer.
  • Follow up on any commitments you make for after the call.
    • Send any requested samples of your work
    • Research an answer for any question you couldn’t answer during the call (you can include this with your thank you email)

5. Know the common questions and what your answer will be to them

Simply answering yes or no, will not impress your interviewer. It could even be enough for them decide you are not worth the time it is going to take to interview you. Make sure you have a good idea about what questions you may be asked and practice your answers to them.

Use detail and be very descriptive with your answers, but be careful not to ramble on. This is your opportunity to tell your story and demonstrate what you have achieved and what you have to contribute, should they decide to hire you.

6. Smile

The simple act of smiling is a quick way to trick your brain into thinking you are happy. You will sound more upbeat and be more engaging with the interviewer. This will give the interviewer the impression that you are a positive, upbeat person, and that you enjoy speaking with people.

* To help you remember to smile, place a mirror by the phone, where it will be easy for you to see. Then, during the call, make a point of looking into it, and smiling while you are talking.

7. Focus on language and voice

Think of your voice as your only tool during a telephone interview. Smile, speak clearly, stay upbeat, and use positive language. 

* NEVER trash your former employers. No matter how wronged you feel you were or how much of jerk your former boss was. It is unprofessional, and only makes you look bad.

Try to take cues from the interviewer, and modulate your own tone and word choice to theirs. Remember that the words you choose and the motivation you put forward, will help determine the outcome of the telephone interview.

8. LinkedIn or Web Profiles

If you don’t have a LinkedIn or an online portfolio, start one. When you have one, make sure it is a shining display of your best accomplishments. Then, when given the best opportunity, direct your interviewer to it.

9. Wait until you have an offer to ask selfish questions

A telephone interview, is not the time to ask about pay and benefits. It is about convincing the person on the other line that you are a solid candidate and they should consider interviewing in person. Asking questions about pay and benefits too soon, will just show that your emphasis is not on being a good fit, but rather it is on what you stand to gain.

10. Express your interest in the employer as well as the opportunity

As the call is ending, thank them for the opportunity to speak with them, but also express your interest in having an in-person interview.  Say something like this:

“I’ve enjoyed speaking with you today, and I would be very happy to discuss more about this opportunity in person.”

Then, ask them if they have any more questions.

11. Before your telephone interview ends, ask for the next steps 

The interviewer is bringing the call to an end, but there has been no talk of a next step. Speak up! Express your enthusiasm for moving forward. Ask if email is the best method for staying in touch (that way you can ensure your thank you message will get through).

If an in-person interview is not scheduled at the end of the call, find out when you can follow up with the employer. Be sure to ask for contact information (name, phone number, job title, and email address) of the person who will be your point of contact.

12. Do NOT wait to send your thank you

Write a thank you letter, and email it as soon as you are able to after the interview. Don’t just say thank you! Include answers to any questions you could not answer during the call. Be specific and reiterate your strengths and value for the position.

To be successful you must prepare. Use these 12 steps, don’t leave the outcome of your next telephone interview up to chance. 

Source: Job Hunt