"I Have a Phone Interview!"
Whether you have a phone interview today, tomorrow or next week -- the following article will show you a brief overview of how to prepare for, and ace your phone interview! Below is a list of eight simple yet effective aspects that can help aid you in being successful for your phone interview (note: if you take away at least one thing from this article be sure that it is point eight).
Firstly -- Research -- you need to conduct a hefty amount of research, from the company itself (the company website, is it in the news?, its plans for the future etc.) to the industry and its surrounding competitors (obviously the amount you do is dependent on time, but the early you start the better prepared you will be). As mentioned before in more detail, a technique I recommend to gather vital information is to actually ring the company's departments and ask intriguing questions -- how the business is going, problems it is coming across, you might be surprised to find out how open about it they actually are. But the main plus is when you mention in a phone interview how you actually came across the information, you give the phone interviewer some really positive and immediate impressions -- such as you are bold, intuitive and are willing to go that extra step.
Secondly -- Practice -- right from the phone interview greeting to closing a phone interview, you need to have your performance perfected and to do that you need to practice and practice. Try out mock phone interviews with friends and family, get yourself a recorder and listen back and analyse your answers -- try and find out areas in which you can improve, whether it be tone and pitch, to the general answer themselves. Two books I highly recommend that you check out to improve your phone interview answers -- and pretty much all aspects is firstly 'the essential phone interview handbook' by P. Bailo and then secondly '101 answers to the toughest interview questions' by R. Fry.
Thirdly -- Purpose -- realise the purpose of the phone interview, when you understand exactly why the phone interview is being conducted, you are in a better mental and informed state to conduct the phone interview well. By understanding that it is simply a screening process, and that this isn't (usually) going to land you the job, and all you are looking to do is pass on to the next stage -- you will know what type of answers and responses they are looking for -- e.g. evidence of your technical ability, personality etc. and not to bring up salary requirements (unless prompted).
Fourth -- Thank You Letter/Email -- prepare a thank you email before you have the phone interview (the importance of the follow up thank you email) so you are ready to send it within literal minutes of the phone interview ending, with a bit of editing here and there making it specific to the interview just conducted. Although, most candidates fail to even send the email (so you are a head of them), they fail to realise the true purpose and potential; of the follow up thank you email -- it is isn't just a thank you -- it is a last chance to sell yourself in a big way, you have an opportunity to mention aspects you forgot or simply didn't have chance to in the interview e.g. qualificaitons, experience.
Fifth -- Secret Tricks and Mistakes to Avoid -- be sure to have conducted research into what works in a phone interview (such as smiling and standing improves the pitch of your voice -- helping you to come across as more energetic and confident) and what doesn't work (such as failing to appropriately greet the phone interviewer in the correct manner, which by the way according to research could lose you the job within the space of just 30 seconds).
Sixth -- Prepare -- you need to be prepared (which links in with practice) for the actual questions that are going to be asked of you during your phone interview -- from the classic 'Tell me about yourself' to preparing for the more modern competency based questions. Write up a little script on what you are going to say, but be sure not to make it word for word -- remember you need to be in a 'flexible' frame of mind. A big mistake that most phone interviewees make, is that they stick to the script and fail to actually answer the question. (The R. Fry's book above would aid you greatly for this section).
Seven -- Ask the Interview Smart Questions -- you need to ask the interviewer questions as it can show that you are interested in the job, and you have given it some deep thought. A question I recommend asking is "what is and when can I hear about the next stage of the recruitment process?" as this is asking both a relevant question that shows interest, but also asks the phone interview for a bit of committment towards you.
Eight -- Listen and Add Value -- on a last note, the best advice I can offer is to actually listen to the interviewer and respond directly what to they are saying, and with every opportunity you get -- you need to be demonstrating how you can 'add value' to the company you are applying for. It is not what can they do for you, it is what can you do for them. For example, if a phone interviewer asks a competency based question such as "Can you give me an example where you had to fix a problem you caused?" this is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate 'added value'. So say that you were tweaking the company's website and caused the layout to become somewhat distorted, but as you were researching more and more on what to do to repair the site, you came across SEO (search engine optimization) --which is the study of techniques and methods used on online practices to improve its searchability -- so not only did you repair the site but you also improved it's traffic by 36% too, which then consequently resulted in an increase of sales by $133,000. You can then go on to state that you noticed some aspects of SEO that can be improved on in the site to the company you were applying for and how they can improve upon their website as well as the results they can be expected to achieve.
Once you had your phone interview and you are curious to know how well it went, check out 'How to Tell if my phone interview went well' to see if you recognised some of the signs and indicators of a positive phone interview. If you have any additional remarks or want to share experiences you have had with phone interviews, then I encourage you to leave a comment below.