When was the last time you had a phone interview and didn’t cover all that you wanted to and then realized it after you hung up on the phone?
Today, a phone interview is as important as an in-person interview. Businesses use technology like videoconferencing and Skype to make final hiring decisions. The best way to prepare yourself is to use a “War Room” strategy.
Clear your room of pets, children, and anything else that can create background noise or distract you from the call. If it is a Skype interview, make sure that the location looks professional—your backyard, bathroom, kitchen, or a messy room will draw negative attention and take the focus off of where you want it…YOU.
Plaster your “War Room” walls with large butcher paper and fill them with key points. Make cheat sheets of commonly asked questions and answers, such as strengths and weaknesses, how you would describe yourself, and what interests you about the job you are applying for. This will allow you to instantaneously respond to the interviewer’s questions.
However, do not get caught in the trap of simply reading your background and skills from a piece of paper. The person at the other end will easily sense what you are doing, and most likely already has that information on your resume.
Below are some more tactics for your “War Room” strategy:
- Make sure that the tone of your voice is positive, cheerful and confident.
- Stand up and smile while talking over the phone. Science has proven that the simple of act of smiling can improve your mood and lower stress, which will convey in your voice.
- Follow the thread of conversation and ask questions based on the information provided. Take notes of important points to refer back to later.
- Have a glass of water near you.
- If there are multiple individuals interviewing you, try to address them by their names to create a personal connection.
- Keep your answers short and to the point. Do not blabber, exaggerate, or veer away from the point.
- Pause briefly before answering a question to give yourself a chance to compose an intelligent and thoughtful response. Use fillers like “That’s a great question”, “Let me consider that for a moment”, or simply re-state the question to buy yourself extra time.
- Be curious. Research the company prior to the interview. This shows both initiative and an eagerness to join their team. Do not oversell yourself. Your interviewer will determine if you are the right fit, not you.
- Look for ways to connect your experience and interests with those of the company and/or its employees. For instance, if you read on the company’s website that it wants to expand into making shark cages in the next five years, and you happen to dive with sharks as a hobby, find a way to share that with your interviewer.
- Ask questions clearly and try not to interrupt. The key to a successful phone interview is listening, asking great questions and not droning on and on. Ask your interviewer if they would like you to speak further to the topic. “Check in” with your interviewer throughout the call. Your interviewer is searching for a co-worker as much as a competent employee.
- Once the interview is over, be sure to say thank-you and follow up promptly with a handwritten note. Never email a thank-you note.
Finally, with your “War Room” prepped and research completed, ask a friend to call you for a practice interview—you may even want to provide her with a few questions to ask. This will reveal any weaknesses in your strategy.
Remember, the more you prepare and practice, the more confident you will become, and that is the one quality found in every good warrior.