Nowadays, if you apply for a job at any given company – whether you're looking through technology jobs at start-ups or accounting jobs at established firms – it's likely that you'll be doing an interview over the phone at some point. Hiring managers are busy, and they use quick calls to determine which applicants are most deserving of an in-person interview.
"More and more companies are conducting interviews with job candidates via phone, Skype or video conference," Kathy Harris, managing partner at Harris Allied, recently told ITBusinessEdge. "This is especially true for first interviews where a hiring manager is simply trying to pre-screen candidates for the team or when a candidate lives too far away to justify flying in for a quick interview at this early stage in the process."
Many have spoken and written about the skills needed to ace an in-person interview, but what about perfecting the phone interview? Listed below are a number of tips and maxims that can help you to blow hiring managers away the next time they give you a call. Follow these rules, and you can be sure that your phone interview will turn into an in-person follow-up – or better yet, into a job offer.
1. Speak with enthusiasm!
If you sound subdued and unexcited during a phone interview, you'll never be called in for an in-person follow-up. Hiring managers who call want to see more than just qualified skills and industry expertise – they want to see that you're excited to potentially work the job that you're applying for.
"Projecting clearly and enthusiastically is important," Kim Whiteside, career services manager at Bellevue University, explained to NerdWallet. "Convey energy and passion. Combining personality and professionalism will go a long way to building a connection with the recruiter, even over the phone."
2. Treat it like a meeting – have a pen, paper and relevant documents on-hand
Just because you're interviewing over the phone doesn't mean you shouldn't be at a work desk. You're going to want to be able to refer to literature regarding the company you're applying to work at, your resume, your references and more during the course of the interview. You're also going to want to take notes, both for your own private reference use and to note topics you want to bring up later in the interview. Just because you're interviewing over the phone doesn't mean you should lounge aimlessly in bed while you do so – set up a work station for the task.
3. Test your devices before the call itself
There's nothing more embarrassing than having to pause – or, in some cases, cancel – an over-the-phone interview because of bad service or a malfunctioning cellphone. So ensure that calls are coming into your mobile device perfectly clearly before using it for an interview. Better yet, use a landline. Whiteside also spoke to NerdWallet about how it's essential to make use of trustworthy phones during an interview. A small faux pas regarding your cell phone could make the difference between rejection and a job offer.
"If possible, find a conference room or an area far enough away from pets, television, music and individuals in the background," she told the news outlet. "Don't have your telephone interview while driving or engaged in any other activity."
So if you can't use a landline, make sure you make a few calls from your mobile before the interview to ensure you have a clear connection.
4. Diction and tone of voice is as important as anything else
Amy Lindgren, owner of Prototype Career Services, recently wrote for the News-Sentinel about the importance of keeping a relatively clean – and slang free – tone-of-voice during an over-the-phone interview.
"We forget to speak clearly and slowly to ensure the other person can grasp everything we're saying," she suggested in her post. "That's why it's such a good idea: Not only will your conversations actually be comprehensible, but you'll stand out as well."
5. Keep your responses to two minutes or less
Lastly, keep your responses to all questions somewhere under 120 seconds in length. Jeff Sackaroff, career services director at the University of North Carolina, told NerdWallet that those being interviewed should keep their responses snappy, so their interview will pick up momentum as it goes.
"[Don't] confuse the interviewer's silence after your response as an invitation [to keep talking,]" he told NerdWallet. "Answer the question and wait for the interviewer to respond with either a comment or follow-up question."
Handling a phone interview properly is a tricky endeavor. You may find yourself dealing with complications that have nothing to do with the interview itself, like a bad connection. Yet, if you follow these tips, you'll be giving yourself every possible opportunity to succeed – and could be working the job of your dreams, in no time at all.