It's common practice for companies to narrow down their search for a new employee by interviewing candidates over the phone. There are many similarities to the in-person interview like preparing ahead of time and speaking professionally and clearly. However, there are a few points unique to the phone interview – and following them could mean the difference between a job offer and heading back to the employment drawing board. (For some advice on the traditional interview, check out Taking The Lead In The Interview Dance.)
IN PICTURES: 7 Interview Don'ts
1. Background Noise
Make sure the only thing the interviewer can hear is the sound of your extra-professional voice. This means choosing a location that is quiet – notably one free of traffic noise, screaming children, TV background sound and anything else that would be distracting. Also, make sure you aren't wearing earrings that might knock against the phone or jingle near it.
Make sure you don't chew gum, smoke or eat during the conversation. If you are worried about having a dry mouth, keep a glass of drink water handy but make sure you only drink if necessary and at opportune moments.
2. Know The Company
Whether the interview is in-person or over the phone, it pays to do your research about your potential employer. Knowing about the company will not only help you to ask more informed questions, it will help you tailor your responses to highlight the most appropriate characteristics for the job.
At the very least, be sure to check out the company's website and get a good sense of what they do, who works for them and their position in their field. You should also be familiar with the job description and any requirements the job posting mentioned. Be ready to demonstrate how well you fill those requirements with specific examples. (For more, check out Dating And Job Hunting: The Same Skills Apply.)
3. Have Your Resume On-Hand
While you probably know your own work history pretty well, having your resume in front of you will ensure you get the dates and any contact names that may come up. It will also come in handy if you get nervous – having your resume handy will help keep your nerves steady, or at least provide a back up if you forget some of the details.
Although you've likely already done so if you have been applying to jobs, make sure your resume is up to date and includes all relevant information for your previous jobs, education and references. (For some resume don'ts, check out 10 Resume Red Flags.)
4. Prepare Notes
Each interview will no doubt have a unique set of questions. However, you can be pretty certain some standard questions will show up in some form. Prepare your answers ahead of time and you'll be able to give them some thought. Consider the following questions:
- What do you consider your greatest strength?
- What do you consider your greatest weakness?
- What specific examples demonstrate your ability to handle this job?
- Describe a situation where you solved a problem with a coworker or client.
Since the only interaction you have with your interviewer at this stage is through your voice, make sure you speak clearly, slowly (but not too slow!) and professionally. You (and your voice) should be engaged and enthusiastic. Don't feel like you have to fill every silence – take a moment to gather your thoughts after you are asked a question to make sure your answer is the best one you can possibly give.
The Bottom Line
Interviews can be stressful, but taking a few simple steps to prepare yourself will help you stay relaxed and confident. Put yourself in a comfortable environment – and remember, while dressing up may help get you into the job-seeking mood, your prospective employer will never know if you are curled up on the couch in your Snuggie. (To learn more, see 7 Things You Should Say In An Interview.)
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