Now that so many facets of work are completed electronically, as opposed to face to face, it’s not unusual for an employer to conduct and interview by phone. Usually, just the initial interview will take place this way, with a second interview done in person if the applicant seems qualified for the job.
However, with business budgets shrinking and employees having heavier workloads than ever, it’s possible that the human resources person who’s doing the hiring doesn’t have time to meet with you in person at all.
Here are some tips and tricks to make your phone interview more successful and increase your odds of getting the job:
1) Make sure you remember your phone appointment! This seems like a no-brainer, but if you don’t mark the appointment on your calendar, you might get the time wrong or forget about it completely. If the employer calls and you don’t answer or you and your kids are in the checkout line at the grocery store, chances are they’re not going to think well of your ability to be on time for the job.
2) Know who is calling who. If you think they’re going to call you at 2PM and you wait half an hour before realizing that you were supposed to be the one to call, you’re going to look like a space cadet. Again, don’t make the employer think you’re a Johnny (or Joanie) Come Lately.
3) Make sure you know what job they’re calling about. When you’ve applied for dozens of positions, it’s easy to get confused about who’s calling and for what job. Get it straight before they call.
4) Make sure you’re in a quiet space and won’t be interrupted during the interview. If the baby’s crying or you’re in a noisy coffee shop, you’ll have trouble staying focused on the interview.
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5) Have your resume and a pad and pen in front of you, so you can refer to it and take notes, if need be.
6) Research the company and the job description ahead of time, so you can ask intelligent, informed questions.
7) Maintain a professional demeanor. People tend to be more laid back over the phone, but that isn’t necessarily what the employer is looking for. Don’t engage in small talk or personal stories, unless the employer prompts you. Follow their lead, so you don’t seem either too laid back or too stiff and formal.
8) Before you hang up, ask when you can expect to hear back from them about the job. That’s a reasonable question and gives you an idea of how soon you can expect an answer. You may have inferred that they’ll call you the next day, but in reality, they’re not going to make a decision for a month. That’s good information to keep you from getting stressed out about your chances of employment.
9) Follow up with an email thanking them for the interview. Briefly restate why you’re qualified for the position and how much you’d like to work for them. That extra contact builds rapport and keeps you in mind for the job.