Phone Interviews

Special considerations for telephone interviews

Most companies prequalify an in-person interview candidate with a telephone interview. Take the phone interview as seriously as you do a face-to-face session. How you handle it decides whether or not you move on in the process.

Review your qualifications
  • Begin by studying the job description and the position requirements. This will enable you to identify the company's particular needs and demonstrate that you possess the skills required to meet them.
  • Prepare a list matching your accomplishments to the company's stated requirements. Keep this list in front of you during the interview and refer to it at every opportunity.
  • Specify and quantify your accomplishments, such as "increased sales by 35%" or "reduced overhead by 27%."
  • Interviewers are keen to hear about relevant challenges or problems you faced in the workplace, the specific actions you took, and the measurable results you achieved. They seek to identify key competencies such as communication skills, analytical skills, teamwork, drive, and initiative. Be prepared to give examples of how and when you have demonstrated these key competencies.
Research the company
  • Find out all you can about the company's products, services, history, and culture. Make a special effort to identify areas where your skills and experience may be of particular value.
  • Familiarize yourself with the company's website and be prepared to comment constructively upon it if asked.
  • Having researched the company and analyzed the job description as suggested, you should find it easy to prepare a few thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer when afforded the opportunity.
Practice answering questions
  • To get the feel of being interviewed over the phone, compile a list of probable questions (you can start with our list) and ask a friend to use them in a simulated phone interview. Prepare your answers carefully, using key words and phrases from the job description and candidate profile. Do not attempt to write out your answers in full or they will sound wooden and scripted.
The actual interview: be your professional best
  • Select a quiet place where you will not be disturbed during the phone call. Keep your resume and cover letter, a copy of the job advertisement, and your notes in front of you. Jot down key points throughout the course of the interview.
  • It is a good idea to stand or sit at a desk during a telephone interview, as this makes you sound more confident and helps project a positive and professional image. Do not sit on a lounge chair, because your voice will reflect your posture.
  • Match your speaking rate and pitch to that of the interviewer to help you establish rapport.
  • Professional radio broadcasters can vouch for the fact that smiling while you talk creates a friendly and enthusiastic impression. So make an effort to smile appropriately during the call.
  • Since it is important to convey the impression that you are genuinely interested in the company and eager to make a contribution, refer to salient information you discovered during the course of your research.
  • Listen attentively to the interviewer's questions and comments. Respond appropriately to verbal or tonal cues. If you don't understand a question, ask for clarification. Provide well-developed, balanced, and analytical answers. Avoid monosyllabic 'yes' and 'no' replies.
  • If asked to explain your reasons for leaving your previous job, make sure to have positive reasons prepared. Under no circumstances should you criticize your previous employers or colleagues.
  • At the end of the phone call, emphasize your interest in the job and the company and reiterate your qualifications. Stress that you would welcome the opportunity of a face-to-face interview.
  • After the interview, write a short thank-you letter.

From "Four Minutes to Job Interview Success" published by Assignments Plus.

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