Phone interview? Here’s how to ace it
Feature Article- Thu., May. 19, 2011
When employers advertise an open position, they receive a mountain of résumés. As a result, many are turning to telephone interviews to screen applicants. If you’re one of the 13.5 million Americans looking for a job, it pays to plan in advance for the prospect of interviewing over the phone. Telephone screening saves a lot of time.
Paula M. Scott, director of Career Services at Brown Mackie College, shares advice she uses to prepare students for successful phone interviews with prospective employers. “The phone interview is a screening tool that helps employers narrow down the number of applicants,” said Scott. “It’s important to give a 100-percent effort because the next step – a face-to-face interview – depends on it.”
In an April Economic News Release, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported some job gains in professional and business services, health care, leisure and hospitality and mining. Still, the unemployment rate hovers at 8.8 percent, and applicants face hefty competition in the marketplace.
What do you sound like on the phone?
Scott and her staff regularly prepare students at Brown Mackie College for all aspects of a successful employment search. “In a phone interview, the voice does it all,” she said. “No one can see facial expressions or body language over the phone. The first step is to record yourself practicing answers to interview questions.” Many of us don’t realize how often we mumble or use “filler words,” such as “um” and “like.” Scott recommends cleaning up speech habits before a telephone interview. “Smile when you speak; it reflects in the tone of your voice,” she said.
“Dress for the interview,” Scott said. “Don’t laugh. People tend to feel and act more professional when dressed for work, and the voice reflects attitude. It also helps to stand rather than sit during the call. A job-seeker’s voice seems to better project when standing.
“Prepare like you would for a regular interview. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and plan to speak about accomplishments you want to share. Also, research the company who has taken interest in you,” Scott said. She listed a wealth of tips for a successful phone interview, including:
Before the phone interview:
• Dress for the occasion
• Use a landline; a cell phone may drop the call or distort an applicant’s voice
• Turn off call waiting; it’s annoying
• No background noise; no TV, no music, no kids, no barking dogs
• Place your résumé in front of you, along with the employment ad
During the phone interview:
• Ask the interviewer for the correct spelling of his/her name; verify his or her title
• Smile as you speak; the interviewer will hear it
• Stand as you speak; your voice will project better
• Speak slowly; enunciate words and use proper grammar
• Don’t interrupt; it’s not polite
• Ask questions; this shows the interviewer you have interest in the job
• Thank the interviewer; it’s good common sense
After the phone interview:
• Send a note of thanks; it shows gratitude and interest
• Send the note within 24 hours; either e-mail or regular mail is appropriate
Since many employers are using the phone interview as a screening tool, it’s important to remember that with a little thought and practice before a telephone interview, you can help ensure that a prospective employer will maintain interest in you.
Courtesy of ARA Content