Recognizing that things are very different in today's job search, an area for consideration is the progressive flourishing of the telephone interview. There are two plausible reasons why companies embrace this particular interview method:
- Decreased cost to the company
- Quicker and more efficiently standardized process
To address the needs of the company, telephone interviewing takes on two standard forms:
SCREENING PHONE INTERVIEW
This is typically the first step in the hiring process. Its purpose is for the company to determine if the applicant has the qualifications needed to do the job. In this assessment process unqualified applicants are weeded out and qualified candidates progress to the next step in the hiring process. (That said, don't allow yourself to inordinately rely on the application process, which should be regarded as auxiliary to making strategic connections within target companies.) In the screening phone interview the screener has an agenda, so provide information the way it's requested:
- Research the company (this goes without saying for all interviews).
- This is a filtering process, so don't sabotage your credibility by being coy or defensive.
- This isn't the time to ask in-depth process questions like "How did I do?" or "When will a decision be made?"
- A good, single question to ask is, "What qualifications are you looking for?" The screener, after all, has a comprehensive list of requirements for the job.
FORMAL PHONE INTERVIEW
Have a copy of your resume in front of you along with notes and questions you want to ask. Have sufficient work space and minimize interference and surrounding noise levels. Get a glass of water; you're going to be talking a lot. Stand up and move around periodically during the call. Research shows that you project yourself better when you're standing up, and you'll feel more energized and confident.
- A land line is preferable (turn off call waiting), or if using a mobile phone be sure to ask for the Interviewer's phone number in case of the dreaded dropped call.
- Put a mirror in front of you. This gives you a face to look at, and helps you to gauge your reactions.
- Smile! It can be 'heard' by the listener.
Use Active Communication
- Speak slowly and enunciate clearly. Give short answers, not talking longer than one minute at a time. More than a minute is interminable in 'phone interview years'.
- Incorporate tracking phrases into your responses which help to focus and maintain the interviewer's attention:
─ As you no doubt know...
─ I’m sure you’d agree...
─ As you’re probably aware...
- Use voice inflection, varying your voice pitch. A monotone voice conveys disinterest or lack of confidence.
- Use the Interviewer's name intermittently, which acknowledges the interviewer's identity and helps to build rapport.
- What objectives would I be expected to meet or surpass?
- What are you looking for in the successful candidate?
- What can I do to help you do your job well?
- What are the next steps?
- When will a decision be made? Who will contact me?
- Confirm and/or clarify the name, title, contact info of the interviewer─misspelling the interviewer's name could be an unpardonable offense!
- Send a thank you letter within 24 hours; email is acceptable.
- Try to set up a face-to-face meeting by asking if it would be possible to meet in person.
The phone interview is like an open book test. Use it to your advantage!
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