A common misconception with the job application and recruitment process is that the procedure is (1) advert, (2) application and CV, (3) interview, (4) when can you start. While in the majority of cases this is in fact the process down to a tee, some employers may look to have a telephone conversation or even an interview with the applicant before inviting them in for an interview.
The reason for this is that sometimes there simply isn’t the time to interview every single person who applies, or even is put onto the interview pile, so the employer will narrow down the options by speaking to some, if not all, over the phone to begin with. The jobs market is a busy one, with far more people applying for one individual position than ever before.
For many, the sound of the phone ringing is not a good thing, particularly when you hear “I’m calling about your application” as this usually means a rejection. However, there are a number of ways that you can get through your phone interview stage and land yourself a meeting with the company and maybe even a full-time position:
1) Be happy and confident:
While talking on the phone might not come naturally to you, you can take some comfort by having an interview without the pressures of sitting in front of three or four members of the company all staring at you. If you relax and smile as much as possible while speaking, it will allow you to give positive answers and sound confident which is much more likely to impress your employer as it emphasizes your enthusiasm.
2) Be professional:
While you may feel comfortable at home or outside having your interview, avoid doing what you may normally do on the phone such as eating or sipping a drink or watching television. Turn the TV off, leave the food in the cupboard and focus on what is being said to you and your response, it’s a case of respect – something all senior employers look for.
3) Stand up and take note!
Believe it or not, standing up and walking around can help your voice to come across more effectively. A clear voice is key down the phone as it allows your potential employer to hear you easily and shows that you have good communication skills. If at all possible, attempt to avoid words like “erm” and “umm” as it can imply that nerves affect you.
4) Have your application to hand:
In the majority of interviews, you will be questioned on your application. If you have this to hand, you can answer any questions you may receive on it and avoids the potentially disastrous situation of leaving the employer on the line while you run off to try and find it. First impressions count and this can imply a lack of organizational qualities.
Whenever your interviewer is speaking, do not interrupt them. Wait for them to ask the whole of the question before jumping in with an answer to show that you have good listening skills, and it also allows you to think of the most suitable answer, something you cannot get away with so easily in a face-to-face interview. Saying words such as “ok” or “right” at intervals will let the interviewer know that you are listening to them.
Of course, following these ideas will only put you into a good position in terms of preparation and theoretical performance. The actual interview is all down to you and how you answer the questions, but if you follow these points as a guide, you should be well on your way to success.
One thing you could try, and this is something many people I know did before their telephone interviews, is to get people to ask them questions that were likely to come up over the phone, (i.e. from landlines to mobile phones), so that they could get into the habit of listening in to the full question and speaking down the phone to the interviewer.
The more you can develop your skills before the interview – whether it is by phone or face-to-face – the more prepared you will be when it comes to actually talking with the interviewer. It’s a bit like training for the Olympics and attending all of the warm up events to hone your skills and make sure you’re in the best possible shape ahead of the main event!
Arguably one of the most vital points that I can give you ahead of any interview, is to remain calm at all times. An interviewer might deliberately attempt to fluster you to see how you cope in a pressure situation which you may experience every day in the position, so if you can show them down the phone or in the sit down interview that you can handle the pressure, you’re already on the right tracks. Good luck!