Would you like my insider advice for having a great telephone interview? Here it is. After over two decades of screening thousands of candidates, these are the key things I listen for outside of just your qualifications in determining if you are a good fit.
1. Take it seriously.
One of the first questions I ask is, “What research have you done on our company?” This is the first place many candidates trip up. You might think that there is no need to do any homework before your in-person meeting. Not so. Prove you’ve done research.
Here is where you can excel:
- Explain what you know about both the company and the position
- Mention the LinkedIn profiles you reviewed of the individuals in the company currently in the role
- Read the recent press releases
- Watch the company videos they have on their site or on YouTube
2. Know what we want to hear.
Demonstrate how you used your skills by talking about more than what is on your resume. This means telling the story of how you got to where you are now. Share the highlights in chronological order – don’t end on the position in your career that probably qualifies you the least for the position you are interviewing. If there are gaps in employment, be prepared to explain them.
Stay calm and pleasant if you feel the conversation is not going well. It’s okay to say, “I wish I had answered your earlier question differently. I’d like to add….”. Also, it’s okay to ask, “Did I give you the information you needed for that question, or would you like for me to expand?” It is about being real and authentic, not about being staged and perfect.
Make it about the company. You can show us your personality (appropriately). I love to talk to candidates that are confident and comfortable. But, this is an interview for a job, so your answers need to reflect on how you, and your experiences, will solve our business need. By demonstrating your knowledge of the position (or getting clarification around the responsibilities), you will be able to better help us envision you in the role.
3. Make the right impression.
Even though it is a telephone interview, a lot can be determined from your voice. Stand up or sit tall so that your voice projects appropriately. Smile – you will sound more relaxed and inviting. Make appropriate arrangements so you are in a quiet setting (no dogs barking or dishes clanking allowed). Use a landline or ensure you are in a place with good cell reception.
4. Tell us that you are interested.
If you are interested in moving forward in the interview process, let us know. Ask us if there is any additional information you can provide so that we have everything we need. Send us a thank you note (email is fine for a phone interview) explaining your understanding of the role, and why you think you are a fit. Take a moment to carefully proofread your written communication, reading it aloud. If you misspell any words, including a name or the company’s name, it is unlikely you will get an invitation to meet face-to-face.
If you think a telephone interview is an unnecessary obstacle in your job search, it may be time to reconsider. You have an opportunity to get ahead of the other candidates, set a lasting impression, and gain valuable insight for determining if this company is a good fit for your next career move.