16 tips on how to ace your next phone interview
- Phone interviews can be nerve-racking, but they are often the first step in many job hiring processes.
- From what questions to ask at the end of your interview to how to prepare, these tips will help you ace your next phone interview.
- To ace your next phone interview, dress professionally, practice your "elevator pitch," and find a quiet space free of any distractions.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Phone interviews can be nerve-racking, but you have to get through them if you want to get to the next level.
Since the interviewer can't actually see you, they are judging you solely on your voice, answers, and any other sounds that come through during the conversation.
"If you cannot get through the phone interview, you will not get the job," Paul Bailo, founder and CEO of Phone Interview Pro and author of "The Essential Phone Interview Handbook
," told Business Insider. "If you cannot get through the first date, you will not get married."
According to Bailo, the stakes are higher today than ever before. More job candidates make initial contact with prospective employers via the telephone and the first "15 seconds either make or break the interview."
Here are 16 tips on how to nail your next phone interview, according to Paul Bailo and his book, "The Essential Phone Interview Handbook
Schedule the interview for a time of day when you're most at your A-game.
"Don't sign up for your phone interview at times when you're normally sleeping, eating, or running errands," Bailo said. "Some people are most focused during the morning hours; others need more time to wake up and are more motivated in the evening. Pick a time when you know you'll do your best work."
If you're a parent who's doing the interview at home, try to choose a time when your kids will be asleep or taken care of by a partner or someone else, so distractions or interruptions are avoided.
Prepare three days in advance.
Three days before the interview, Google the company and research their financial information and corporate culture.
Two days before the interview, take all of the information you have about the company and comprise it in a way that you can use in your interview.
The day before the interview, prepare and practice. Set up your environment and decide what you want to discuss.
Listen to talk radio during your free time.
Bailo told us that listening to talk radio is the best practice for perfecting a professional conversation.
On talk radio, the announcers task is to tell you a story without you being able to actually see what they're telling you. Instead, you have to imagine it. For example, if you're listening to a sporting event, the announcers are illustrating to you what's going on in the game because you're not currently there or watching it.
This is a valuable skill to have during a phone interview.
"You must be able to pay attention to a speaker who isn't right in front of you. This means being able to maintain focus while avoiding distractions," Bailo said.
Shower, brush your teeth, and dress up in your professional clothes.
"Wearing business attire will pump you up for your phone interview - giving you confidence that you can conquer the world! You will feel more confident in your responses and it will come through during your interview," Bailo said.
You don't have to wear a suit or even formal business attire, but wearing a pressed button-down shirt and dress pants can make you feel more prepared than being unshowered and wearing your pajamas from the night before.
An hour before the interview, soothe your throat.
Before the interview, have some tea with a spoonful of honey or take a cough drop to keep your throat clear and concise.
Both of these options are a lot better than gulping down water during the interview or being too hyper from countless cups of coffee.
Exercise your voice before the interview.
You should practice your voice before an interview so that it sounds clear, confident, and rejuvenated. An hour before, talk to a friend or relative to warm-up your voice. Or even better, sing aloud.
"Practice different tones and pitches before your phone interview. Professional speakers exercise their voices before speaking, and so can you," Bailo said. "Singing will stretch out your voice muscles and also give you the energy you need to ace your phone interview. Singing also lowers your stress level, leaving you excited and ready for your interview."
"How many times did you record your voicemail messages before you were content with the results? I doubt it came out perfect on the first try. Most people record their voicemails multiple times before settling on a message they feel comfortable presenting to the world."
Don't get too comfortable in the room you'll be doing your interview in.
Make sure your space feels professional like it would in a face-to-face interview room. If you can retreat to a private area of your home, free of any distractions like other people or your TV, this will allow you to remain focused during the interview.
"This will help you produce quality responses," Bailo said.
Have your resume and a "cheat sheet" in front of you.
- Beforehand, have all of the papers that you'll need during the conversation - cover letter, resume, set of questions you have - spread out in front of you so you don't have to rummage through papers during the interview.
This isn't to say you should be reading off your resume or notes like a script - but it can help to have them in front of you for a quick glance in case you forget the years you worked in a certain job or the full names of past managers.
Practice your "elevator pitch."
- The very first question in practically every job interview is, "Tell me about yourself."
Practice your "elevator pitch" beforehand - a one-minute explanation of your educational background, job experience, skills, and passions. Try to tie in how each of these things relates to the position at hand.
Don't look in the mirror during the interview.
A lot of people think that if you look in a mirror, you'll become more aware of your speech and will do better in the phone interview, but this is not true.
When you look in the mirror, you become too focused on your own reflection and not on the interview. Doing this also typically makes people smile more than they normally would - which is unnatural when you're speaking.
"It will affect your voice, making your speech sound unnatural," Bailo said.
Look at a photograph of your interviewer while you're on the phone.
Bailo advises in "The Essential Phone Interview Handbook" to find a photograph of the person interviewing you and have it out in front of you during the interview.
This will help you connect to the person and, in turn, make you calmer. If you can't find a photo of them, substitute it for a photo of someone you take seriously like a well-known authority figure.
Don't ramble and be sure to actively listen.
Some people think that if they talk more during interviews, it'll help them. But this is incorrect.
"The less you talk, the more you listen and the better you'll do," Bailo told Business Insider.
The best method to use is to wait three seconds before answering questions. This will give you time to think and to cut out unnecessary "ums" and "ahhs" in your conversation.
Keep in mind that the phone interview is much like a dance - take time to listen to the music. The hiring manager determines the dance, so if they want to follow, then you lead. If they want to lead, you follow.
"Be sure to listen to what the interviewer has to say, and think before responding. Take a few seconds to understand the question, and then prepare a quality answer before simply blurting out something less intelligent."
Convince the interviewer that they need you.
Companies are looking for people to solve problems so show them that you are capable of doing this.
With your research on the company, frame your answers during the interview to revolve around these two themes: how you can make the company money, and how you can save the company money.
Ask three thoughtful questions.
- Bailo recommends that two days before the interview, think of some questions you'll set aside to ask the interviewer.
Bailo gives an example question:
"[Interviewer's name], what are you most proud of about [name of company]? What corporate issues cause you to lose sleep at night?"
There are three important steps to take after the interview.
At the end of the interview, let your interviewer know that you're serious about the position and ask them to inform you of the next step.
Then, Bailo says you should send an email thanking your interviewer and articulating why you're perfect for the job 24 to 48 hours after the interview.
Within two days after the email, Bailo recommends that you send a handwritten card on a simple layout with a simple stamp.
Within two days after you send the thank you card, take it a step further. If you discussed any current events during the interview and you happen to come across something in the news, send them the article with a summary of why you think it's relevant. This will show you're smart, articulate, and sharing.
If you don't get the job, stay in touch.
- It's always a good idea to check in periodically with your interviewer, even if you don't get the job. That way, the next time an opportunity may arise, you're first on their list of people to reach out to.
Keep your interviewer updated on any new job positions you hold over the years, and create a "professional pen-pal" type of relationship - you never know when it might come in handy.
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