For the candidate, the phone interview is both a victory and the first of many tests in the interviewing process. Some companies skip this step, particularly with local candidates. Personally, I prefer the phone interview, even if it is a straight forward interview with HR. As a candidate, it gives me a first impression of the company and an idea of the maturity of their business processes. As a manager, it gives me a first impression of the candidate without investing the time and energy in an in-person interview.
Since the phone interview is all about first impressions, you really only have a few moments to convince the interviewers to schedule you for an in-person interview. In no particular order, here are a few tips from phone interviews I have done over the years.
- Talk with a smile. In a phone interview all the non-verbal communication is carried by your voice. Even if your interviewers can’t see you, whether or not you are smiling while you talk comes across with your voice. It lifts your voice, making you sound open, friendly and dynamic.
- Be in a quiet location. Actually, this tip goes for both sides. I once interviewed a programmer who sounded like he was in the middle of a highway going through an industrial kitchen. I know, physically impossible, but there was so much noise in the background that it was very hard to hear his answers to our questions. Likewise, as a candidate, I once was interviewed from a car cell phone… and the guy stopped for an espresso along the way. Background noise is very distracting for both sides, so find a quiet place where you can focus on the interview.
- Please take the time to understand the job description. If you are lucky enough to have an interviewer who really knows the job description, take the time to be sure you understand what is expected from the job. This will not only help you focus what you say, but it also gives you an opportunity to assess whether the job is right for you. If the written job description is not clear, ask questions.
- Be honest with yourself. If during the phone interview you realize that the job is not what you expected or what you wanted, please be honest with yourself and your interviewer. It is far better to say that you don’t think you will be a fit for the job early than to go through the whole process, or worse, take a job you will be disappointed with.
- Relax and be yourself. I know, I know. It’s easy to say. When you’re relaxed, you’ll smile, you’ll listen and you’ll be honest with yourself. Plus, you are more likely to move forward in the interview process for a job that you may really like.
If you have any good tips or horror stories from phone interviews, please share them in the comments!
Update:To read more tips on succeeding in the hiring process, please read my other posts on the subject:
- Hiring From A Manager’s Perspective – Part 1: Surviving The Resume Triage
- Hiring From A Manager’s Perspective – Part 3: Nailing The Interview
- Hiring From A Manager’s Perspective – More Tips To Get An Interview