In the era of Skype, videoconferencing, and social media technology, it is shocking that phone interviews still exist. However, the reality is that most job interviews begin with a phone interview. A phone interview is typically with a company human resources representative. Here are some great tips to avoid common pitfalls:
1. Set-up a proper interview environment ahead of time. Find a silent location in your building or home. Make sure that you have your resume, your interview notes, and a new notepad and pen. Use a land-line phone and ensure that you block call waiting or any other distractions. Do NOT conduct a phone interview while driving.
2. Test your technology. If possible call multiple people ahead of time and do practice interviews answering questions as you would for a real phone interview. Have people evaluate your sound, tone, inflections in your voice, and clarity. Because the person interviewing you 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 give clear answers to your questions and your enthusiasm for the opportunity.
3. Be Switzerland. It is an estimate 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 goal of a phone screen is to screen you out not screen you in. Therefore, questions asked are intended to narrow down 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 Human Resources people don’t know the ins and outs of your profession. Avoid asking questions about salary, benefits, and time off.
Above all, remember that no candidate will ever be hired strictly from a phone screen. Your goal as a job seeker should be to gain an opportunity to interview with the decision makers. Provide the person doing the phone screen enough information to forward you to the next round and nothing more.
Download more free interview preparation resources from Minnesota IT Jobs.