Telephone Interviews – tips for doing well

Telephone Interviews

Increasingly employers are using the telephone interview as an inexpensive way to screen candidates.  In addition, given the vast numbers of people leaving Ireland to take up jobs overseas it is likely that the first (or even all) interviews will be over the telephone. 

Eight Tips for Performing Well at a Telephone Interview

1.       It’s the real deal

The hint is in the name – telephone INTERVIEW.  Just because you are not all dressed up in your best interview suit and sitting shaking outside the office door doesn’t make it any less important, so treat it as such. 

2.       Don’t say it suits you if it doesn’t

Picture the scene. You are on the bus and get a call from a potential employer who says that they just “have a few questions about your application” and “would now be a convenient time?”  STOP! That fairly innocuous enquiry = AN INTERVIEW.  Don’t be tempted to say Yes when it clearly isn’t the best time and place to be able to concentrate on what you are saying.  Tell them the timing isn’t right and arrange a mutually convenient time.

3.       Simulate interview conditions

Dress smartly – dress as if you are meeting potential employers.  It will lead to a better telephone interview performance.  Slobbing around in your tracksuit will not make you feel professional and this may be reflected in you tone of voice and the quality of your answers.

4.       Quiet please

Banish all noise from your house – in whatever form  – kids, flatmates, pets, phone ringers, partners (!) for the duration of the interview.  You will not be able to fully concentrate on the interview if you are sitting there wondering when the dog will stop barking!

5.       Key message reminders

Stick some post it notes in front of you with words to prompt the key messages you want to get across during the interview – eg Initiative, 10 years experience, Leading revenue generator, Excellent leadership skills.  Don’t have pages and pages of notes in front of you – you wouldn’t have them in a real interview so count yourself lucky that you can get away with a few post-its with key prompts and if you HAVE to – your CV.

6.       Turn off the computer

We are almost involuntarily drawn to checking our emails / Facebook page every five minutes.  Don’t be tempted.  You can always tell when someone you are talking to on the phone is doing something other than listening to you, eg checking emails or texting someone!  It is an instant turn-off for interviewers so don’t be caught out 

7.       Sit up straight and use a headset

Sit as you would do in a real interview – preferably at a desk so you can take a few notes.  If you can, use a headset to keep your hands free for writing – don’t use a speaker and handsfree – you will sound like you are shouting.  A landline is always better since the line quality is less likely to vary during the call.

8.       Smile

Sounds bizarre but a friendly manner can be transferred down a phone line with a smile.  I’m sure there is some science behind it –  I don’t know what it is but I know that it works!

Sinead provides Interview Coaching , including preparing for telephone and skype interviews.  Contact Sinead for a free initial consultation.

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