Phone screens are a very common first round interview nowadays, and for different reasons. Almost everyone will have a first round phone screen before a full in person interview. Which makes that call very important!
Why a phone screen? Maybe you’re not local and travel to the interview isn’t ideal. Or, maybe it’s for a contract position that requires you to work from home so phone skills must be tested first. Or, the company wants to save time and resources by weeding out the no-so-great candidates before that first handshake.
Whatever the reason, do not take these critical first impressions lightly. They can carry a lot of weight and may be the difference between meeting face-to-face, or moving on.
Here are a couple of tips the AXIOM team has come up with to help you ace this crucial step.
First, wake up! If your interview is first thing in the morning and you aren’t already in an office somewhere, get up! Get ready, get energized, and have that first cup of coffee. The last thing you want is for the HR person to think you lack enthusiasm because you are still asleep!
Second, think about recording yourself describing your abilities. Play it back so you can adjust your tempo or volume when you speak on the phone live. Don’t be afraid to slow yourself down.
Third, do your homework! Just like a regular interview, make sure you have good knowledge of what the company does, what their culture is like and what your duties might be. This will help the conversation flow and lead you to ask intelligent questions.
Fourth, cut distractions. A comfy bed? The Today Show? PJs? No, they will not see or sense these things, but removing distractions can help your concentration, put you in a business mode and project your seriousness about the position. Lounging in bed sounds relaxing, but it can make you sound tired and uninterested.
We found a few good articles online with more phone tips, like this one from “The Interview Guys”:
“Prepare your own Cheat Sheet….Make sure you prepare your own list of questions before you start. Make sure your questions are thoughtful and have a purpose. “
This is a great tip; you might not think it’s appropriate to have a list of questions to pull out of your bag or notebook and read from them in an in-person interview, but they can’t see you on the phone! It’s a smart idea to have some prepared questions at your fingertips.
Another tip we really liked came from “TheBalance.com”:
“Listen carefully to the interviewer and don’t start speaking until the interviewer finishes the question. If you have something you want to say, jot it down on your notepad and mention it when it’s your turn to talk.”
You’re missing body language over the phone. When in person, it’s easy to see if the interviewer is getting ready to say something else, or is looking at notes, or pausing to take a sip of water. On the phone, you don’t see those things. So, pause, wait a moment and be sure it’s your turn before you start speaking. This will make the conversation flow easily and eliminates interruptions.
Phone interviews have their good points…no commute, no suit, and less time away from your current job; and their pitfalls…missed cues, dropped calls and they can feel slightly less personal. So, remember just a few more things from us here at AXIOM: don’t sit where you might have bad cell reception, move your dogs into a quiet spot so they can’t be heard, smile (you can hear it in your voice, really!), don’t let your child answer the phone, lose the snacks, and just like a regular interview…always say thank you!
-Have a thought on our blog post? Please comment below, we love to start new discussions!