Make a Great Impression during Your Phone Interview

November 13th, 2015

Once an open position has been posted and a pool of applicants have submitted their resumes, employers tend to choose either of two options: They can narrow the candidate pool to a small group of final contenders and then call each contender in for an in-person interview. Or they can narrow the pool to a moderate size and then screen each applicant over the phone before issuing interview invites.

Managers often choose to conduct phone screenings first, since this process saves time and money for both parties. Sometimes a few simple, direct questions can remove candidates from the list if they misunderstand the nature of the position, or they’re unable to accept the job if it’s offered.

So if your employer contacts you for a phone interview, how can you make it clear that this job is the right one for you? Keep these tips in mind.

Listen carefully.

This job may NOT actually be the right one for you, and you can save yourself plenty of hassle and headaches if you discover this sooner rather than later. Listen to the interviewer, don’t just wait for your turn to talk. She may offer valuable information about the job’s long hours, required travel, limited opportunity for advancement, or meager salary. If you still want the job, carry on. But if not, now is the time to ask follow up questions and potentially reconsider.

Be direct.

During your in-person interview, you may be asked open-ended questions that require thought and soul searching, like “What are your greatest strengths?” and “Where would you like to be in five years?” But phone interview questions are typically more straightforward, so be sure to give straightforward answers. Be honest, be clear, and keep your message short.

Consider your non-verbal gestures.

You may think that your non-verbal gestures don’t matter, since your interviewer can’t see you. But think again. Stand up (or sit up straight) as you speak. Make sure you smile when you say hello (people can hear a smile in your voice). And speak clearly and slowly—don’t rush or mumble.

Pause before you speak.

Don’t talk over your interviewer. It’s better to deal with long awkward pauses (they’re not as awkward as you think) than confusing verbal pile-ups. Let your interviewer finish speaking, then pause for two full seconds before you respond. Take your time. When you can’t see each other, it’s better to move too slowly through a conversation than it is to rush.

Deliver a shortened version of your elevator pitch.

You may have a prepared statement in mind that you plan to deliver during your in-person interview. If so, offer a stripped down version of the same basic talking points before you end your call and hang up the phone. Mention or two of the most important reasons why you feel you’re a perfect match for this job.

For more on how to ace your phone interview and land the job you need, contact the staffing and job search experts at PSU.

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