Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Set down the coffee cup - Phone Interviews

I have mixed feelings about phone interviews. Different organizations treat them differently - some just want to talk to you more about the position, some want to make sure you're not crazy, and some are actually hardcore interviewing you. It's hard to know what you're going to get so it's best to be prepared.

Last month I had a surprise interview which I now really wish I had asked to reschedule. Before they called, again, unexpectedly, I had a big ol' cup of coffee. I was so excited and hyped up on caffeine when they called that I chose to continue and gabgabgabgabgab a mile a minute. Bah!! Awful. Here's my tip: don't do that. 

Penelope Trunk offers some other, more general tips:

1. Attend to your surroundings. 
Don't just mute the TV, turn it off. Stay in a quiet place where you know you won't be bothered or distracted by noise. If you're doing a video interview, make sure your background isn't cluttered, busy, or distracting for the interviewer. Also, don't drink too much coffee.

2. Dress the part. 
You may feel silly walking around in your apartment in a suit just for a phone call but I swear it helps. You'll feel more professional and sound that way too. Especially do this if you're having a skype/video interview!  Let your interviewer turn on their video first so you can best gauge whether or not to throw that jacket off.

3. Stand up. 
I often pace when I'm on the phone but that's not what Penelope is suggesting. In fact, don't pace too much because you could sound winded. Penelope says, "Walking around a bit, but not too much, also keeps the call going smoothly. If your body is confined, your speech sounds different than if you have run of the room. It's one reason that the best speakers walk around instead of standing in one place at the podium."

4. Prepare for obvious questions. 
I think this is pretty standard - be prepared and be able to be concise.

5. Don't forget to close
 Make sure you get a clear idea of what the next steps are. When are they going to start in-person interviews? Will there be another round of telephone interviews? By when will you have an answer? Who will be conducting the in-person interview? This helps with your sanity and shows that you're seriously invested.

Also, don't be afraid to reschedule a surprise phone interview! You want to be prepared and have your space ready.


Michelle Parker said...

These are great tips. When I was doing phone interviews last year, I made sure I did all of these and most people don't realize they should be doing it too.