Although job search techniques have changed over the years, one area of the job search that remains unchanged is the first-round phone interview. No matter how well you portray yourself on social media sites such as LinkedIn, your resume, or other professional work, the phone interview is the first opportunity you have to make a strong first impression through your conversational skills and personality.
As the candidate, you can’t rely on body language and facial expressions to gauge an interviewer’s interest over the phone, so the most important thing to remember is that the delivery of your responses will play a major role in whether or not you get a call back. To ensure you are first in line for an in-person interview, here are 5 things you should emphasize during every phone interview.
Your voice is all you have…use it to your advantage
Phone interviews typically last about 15-30 minutes, which is just the right amount of time to provide thorough and concise answers to your interviewer’s questions. It’s important to remember that it’s not what you say about yourself, but how you say it that will hold more weight with the interviewer. Therefore, speak with a crisp, well-enunciated tone of voice when you answer questions, which let the interviewer know you are confident in yourself.
Furthermore, avoid using slang, slurring your words, or using certain filler words like “um” or “like” too much, as it can distract your interviewer from concentrating on your responses. Instead, job seekers should portray enthusiasm and confidence behind their words in order to leave an impression. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself 2-3 seconds to think about your answer before beginning to speak.
Know the basics about the company and interviewer(s)
At this stage of the interview process, interviewers are relying on the initial phone conversation to gauge your interest level in the company and also to figure out if you could be a good fit for the role. The more you know about the company (e.g., mission statement, company culture, business initiatives, etc.) the easier it will be to portray yourself as a well-informed candidate, so do your research!
In addition, preparing a “cheat sheet” you can quickly refer to that has certain bits of information listed (i.e., details about the position, talking points, specific questions, etc.) is a good strategy to utilize if you don’t want to come off as nervous or unprepared.
Speak articulately about your skill set and work experience
Since you don’t have the benefit of using your body language to exude confidence in your responses, it’s important to know how to comfortably articulate your skill set and work experience. Explaining your employment history is a standard task in most phone interviews, so after you’ve done it so many times, it may be easy to start sounding rehearsed or scripted in your responses. To avoid sounding like this, try to convey a sense of authority and intelligence when highlighting your professional history. Interviewers are more likely to move forward with a candidate that can speak knowledgeably about previous jobs as it indicates that you know what you’re doing and the information on your resume reflects real experience.
Ask intelligent questions
During the first phone interview, hiring managers are trying to establish what make you better equipped for the position over another candidate. When your interviewer asks if you have any questions, asking intelligent questions specifically geared towards the role demonstrates a good sign of interest. Why? Framing questions to get an idea of the company’s goals, is the perfect opportunity to segue into highlighting how your skills and past experiences could apply to the role. In addition, no matter what industry you’re in, using industry-specific jargon, or the kinds of phrases common in the job you’re interviewing for, portrays you as an adept professional suitable for the position you’re interviewing for.
A follow up “Thank You” note is a must
After every interview you should aim to send a thank you note to the hiring manager, and any other persons involved within 24 hours. Not only is it seen as a simple courtesy to thank your interviewers for considering you for the role, but it also illustrates your professionalism and your interest in moving forward in the interview process. For some hiring managers trying to decide between two strong candidates, sometimes all it takes is a well-written thank you note to encourage them to choose one candidate over another.