How to Handle the Phone Interview

When you are being screened or interviewed over the phone, your communication skills and voice must carry the day. It is critical for you to sound confident, professional and relaxed. Avoid coming across as nervous, rambling or uptight.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Avoid being caught off guard by having the following items next to your phone in anticipation of the call:

• Your resume.
• A list of professional accomplishments.
• A list of questions you want to ask the interviewer.
• Background information on the employer.
• Outlines of stories that relate to your competencies and problem-solving abilities.
• A list of possible interview times and dates.

In order to be at your best, make sure you have privacy for the call. Separate yourself from all possible disturbances (e.g., family members, friends, pets, TV sets, radios, etc.) in order to minimize possible interruptions.

The following pointers can help you create a winning telephone image:

• Be enthusiastic, but do not dominate the conversation.
• Be prepared to answer the “tell me about yourself” question early in the conversation. Before the call, prepare yourself to answer this question in two minutes or less; failure to do so might put the interviewer to sleep.
• Speak clearly and be aware of your pace—not too fast, not too slow.
• Use concise, fact-filled sentences and phrases.
• Don’t ramble or over-explain. The verbose candidate has lost more opportunities for a face-to-face interview than the person with short, succinct answers. If the interviewer wants additional information, he or she will ask for it.
• Interject short responses intermittently to acknowledge the interviewer’s comments (e.g., “That’s interesting,” “I see,” “Great idea,” etc.).
• Conclude responses with “check-back” phrases such as, “Does that answer your question?” or “Is that what you’re looking for?”
• Show that you’ve done your homework by asking intelligent questions based on factual information you have obtained about the opportunity and the company. You can glean this information from conversations with your recruiter, from a visit to the company’s web site, or through other research methods.

YOUR MAIN MISSION

Your main mission is to be invited in for a face-to-face interview with the employer. To accomplish this, you need to meet these three objectives:

1) Assume the role of “seller” during the interview. If you sell your skills and abilities effectively, the listener will be able to see the value in bringing you in for an interview.

2) Describe your ability to impact the company by using specific dollar amounts and percentages to explain your past accomplishments. Let them know HOW you did it.

3) Demonstrate industry knowledge by asking “intelligence” questions. For example, “The industry seems to be moving toward [emerging technology]. How does your company plan to compete?”

CLOSE FOR A FACE-TO-FACE INTERVIEW

By asking questions during the interview, you subtly start taking control of the conversation. If you sense the interviewer relinquishing control, continue with your line of questions. As you proceed, try to get a feel for the chemistry or rapport that has been established. If you feel the interviewer is impressed with you, and you are interested in pursuing the opportunity, do not hesitate to close the conversation by pushing for a face-to-face meeting.

Here is a possible closing statement to consider using:

(Interviewer’s name), based on the information you have given me, I am very interested in pursuing this opportunity and would like to schedule a time for us to meet in person. What days and times look good for you?”

If the interviewer agrees, but cannot set a specific time, simply suggest when you would be available and ask when would be a good time to follow up. By taking this information into account before the phone screen and preparing accordingly, you will come across as a candidate who should be invited in for a personal interview. Remember, the company has seen your resume, they have an idea of your past experience and accomplishments, now it is time to sell yourself.

Hope these phone interview tips get you ready and focused…..

Good Luck and Good Hunting!

Coach Mark

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