More employers these days are using a video or phone interview to screen potential candidates as a way of saving time and keeping their hiring costs low. So there’s a good chance that at some point during your job search you’ll be asked to take part in a phone interview.
Although discussing a job over the phone might feel less formal than a face-to-face interview, your tone of voice and demeanour could easily be misinterpreted over the phone, so it’s important to be well-prepared. Here are five tips to help you get it right.
1. Dress up as if you were going to a face-to-face interview
Although your interviewers won’t be able to see you, dressing up as if you were going to meet them in person can put you in the right frame of mind. As crazy as it may sound, you’re more likely to feel and sound professional if you’re neatly dressed and groomed than if you’re slouching on the sofa with rumpled hair and pyjamas.
2. Focus on speaking slowly and clearly
It’s easy for things to be misheard or drowned out when talking over the phone, especially if you’re feeling nervous and rushing your responses. So make a point of speaking slower than you normally would and articulating each word clearly.
Also make sure you listen to what your interviewer is saying and wait for them to finish before answering or asking any questions. Overly long explanations have the potential to confuse your audience over the phone, so try to keep your responses to two or three sentences. Smiling while you talk can also help you to sound more relaxed and approachable.
3. Do a practice interview
If you don’t have a lot of experience with phone interviews it can help to do one or two practice runs with a friend. Along with getting your friend’s feedback, try to record these mock interviews so you can listen to yourself speak and make adjustments to your presentation where necessary.
Do you sound relaxed or nervous and over rehearsed? Are you speaking too quickly or cutting off the interviewer before they’ve finished their question? Are your answers too long-winded?
4. Make sure you have a quiet space and good connection for the interview
If you know you have a phone interview coming up, find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted by kids, friends, pets or household emergencies. A strong phone signal or reliable internet connection is also important to ensure a smooth phone or video interview.
Your local library or a nearby hotel may have a video conferencing facility you can use, but if you need to be at home, try using a headset to block out background noises and keep your hands free to take notes or look for information.
5. Be prepared but don’t read out pre-written answers
While it’s good to have all the information you’ll need during the interview close at hand (a copy of your CV, for instance), writing out your answers in advance can come across as scripted and unnatural.
Instead, make notes about the job and company and take some time to think about why you would be a good fit. You can use keywords or bullet points to help jog your memory during the interview, but avoid writing down full answers or statements. This way you’ll be able to give prompt and detailed responses without sounding like a recorded message.