If your resume is winning you frequent interviews, then it is doing its job. If you are going to lots of first interviews but are not making it into the next round, then you may need to work on your interviewing skills. You are not alone. Selling yourself to a potential employer is not easy. However, as with anything, the more you know, the more successful you will be.There are several types of interviews, each with their own set of challenges: face-to-face meetings, in-box assessments and virtual interviews conducted via telephone, Skype and video. The interview is one of the most important parts of a job search, yet many people fail to prepare out of fear. To help reduce jobseeker anxiety, I have created a series of blog posts on the different types of virtual interviews. In this first installment, I share tips on how to master the telephone interview.
Tips for Success
- Telephone interviews are “real” interviews. Whether it is an initial screening interview with HR or a conversation with the hiring manager, you must prepare and be in the right frame of mind to succeed. Your goal: to win a face-to-face interview.
- Actually practice speaking on the telephone. If you are not comfortable speaking on the phone, start practicing because it is a skill that can positively or negatively impact your professional career. Focus on your language and voice – slow down, breathe deeply, speak clearly and give short answers. Make it easy on yourself by avoiding words that are difficult to pronounce.
- Be prepared to discuss the job. You should be able to explain why the role appeals to you and how your experience makes you well qualified. You may be asked for your salary requirements, so do some research online before you even apply for the job. HR often uses the salary question to determine the seniority level of a candidate during the initial screening process. Your desired salary range should be appropriate to your level of experience and the role. Glassdoor is a great resource for salary information.
- Control your environment. Set yourself up for success by minimizing the risk. Schedule the call for a time when you will be free to speak openly. If the call comes in with no warning, ask to call them right back as soon as you can move to a quieter spot. You should be in a private area with strong cell reception and your cellphone battery should be fully charged. Turn off call waiting and eliminate all other distractions.
- Have all your documentation handy. The job posting, your resume, your cover letter and a list of questions to ask the interviewer should all be available at your fingertips. (If you are not sure what questions to ask, and which to avoid, here are some tips.)
- Record a professional-sounding voicemail message. First impressions are so important. Many hiring managers tell me that they chose not to leave a message for candidates after listening to their outgoing message. Be sure your voicemail message is thoroughly professional and includes your name.
- Avoid unprofessional behaviors. I shouldn’t have to include this one, but you would not believe the horror stories I’ve heard from interviewers. Don’t smoke, chew gum, eat or drink. It can be helpful, however, to keep a glass of water handy just in case.
- Show that you are a polite professional. Use the person’s title (Mr., Ms. etc.). Be friendly, upbeat and convey your interest in the job/company. Nod in agreement when the other person is speaking and smile when answering their questions. Your positive attitude will come through.
- Stay in the moment. Make sure you really listen to the other person. Don’t distract yourself by thinking about what you would like to say next. No matter how nervous you are, do not interrupt the interviewer (a personal challenge of mine when I get excited about a topic) or dominate the conversation. Take notes while the interviewer is speaking, as long as you can still concentrate on what is being said.
- Wrap up properly. As the interview comes to a close, thank the interviewer for their time and let them know that you are looking forward to moving forward in the interview process (if this is the case). Don’t hang up before asking about the next steps. Immediately send a thank you email, expressing your interest in the opportunity and the employer.
You can do it!
If you follow these tips, you will be ready to impress your potential employer during your telephone interview, and hopefully score that all-important in-person interview.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin
An inspirational career consultant, Trish (Thomas) McGrath has been helping people develop the tools, strategies and confidence to build satisfying careers since 2009. An experienced career transition coach, resume expert and job search strategist, she guides her clients through the job search process to make it less overwhelming and more successful. Contact Trish at (860) 658-6480 or firstname.lastname@example.org to see how she can help you gain the competitive EDGE.
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