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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How to Make a Strong Impression During a Phone Interview

January 17th, 2014

Many employers who are pressed for time or constrained by tight budgets decide to streamline the candidate selection process by using phone interviews during the first round. A quick phone screening can reduce an applicant pool by half or more, simplifying a complex decision. And phone interviews cost almost nothing for parties on both ends of the conversation.

So, if you need to get past this first round before meeting your potential employers in person, here are a few moves that can help you make a strong impression using only your words and your voice.

1. Before the moment of your scheduled interview, stretch your body and loosen up. Then stand. If you can’t stand, sit up straight. These simple moves will open your circulation, expand your chest and lungs, and will have an impact that your listeners will be able to hear through the phone.

2. As odd as it sounds, your listeners will also be able to hear your smile. So smile before you answer the phone. And make your smile as genuine as possible—engage your entire face, not just your mouth.

3. Don’t rush to speak. Let your interviewer finish talking and then pause for a full second before you make a sound. In real life, the other person can take cues from your face regarding your engagement, interest and listening skills. But the phone won’t allow this. So relax. Don’t talk over your interviewer or cut them off, no matter how enthusiastic you feel.

4. Know exactly what you’ll say if your interviewer simply hands the conversation over to you, because this might happen. If she says something like “Tell me about yourself,” or “Tell me something about why I should hire you for this job”, know what you’ll say. Don’t let the line fall silent while you struggle to organize your thoughts.

5. Have a copy of your resume in hand. There’s a strong chance your interviewer will ask about it or refer to it as she speaks, so don’t waste her time while you slowly open your computer, let it boot up, search for the file, etc, etc. While you’re at it, you may also want to open the company’s website so your reviewer can use it as a reference during your conversation.

6. Allow the interviewer to control the conversation and follow their lead. Pick up their tone and reflect the same tone back. And if you run into a tangle or miscommunication, simply become quiet and allow her to ask for or provide the necessary clarification.

For more on how to navigate the phone interview process and make your way into the next round with style, contact the NC staffing team at PSU.

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