Phone interviews can be tricky. You may think they’re easier than interviewing in person and you can just lounge on the couch in your jockstrap and read off your resume, but guess what? You can’t. Not if you want to get a job.
Here are some tips for phone interviewing:
- Dress in at least business casual attire. Yeah, I know they can’t see you, but that doesn’t matter. You’re likely to feel – and, consequently, interact – less professionally if you’re talking to a recruiter in your jammies.
- Make sure you’re in a quiet place; turn the TV and music off. If you have a noisy co-habitor, chase them out. If that’s not possible, gag them. Unless it’s a child, in which case you could have Child Services after you.
- Use a land line if possible; the reception is still better than on cellphones. Breaking up is a bad thing to do during a phone interview. And if you have call waiting, turn it off! Pissing off the interviewer is another bad thing to do. Besides, you wouldn’t want to ask them to hold on while you chat with your buddy about last night’s “Buffy” marathon.
- Bullet key accomplishments in each recent position relevant to what the employer needs, as talking points. Keep these notes and a copy of your resume, with these key accomplishments and skills highlighted, handy during the interview. And don’t use your resume as a coaster for your latte.
- Prepare as you would for a face-to-face interview. Remember this is a screening interview, so if you don’t pass the screen (or they don’t; remember it’s a mutual thing), the face-to-face interview won’t happen, and you’ll be forever plagued by curiosity as to the physical attributes of the forever-faceless recruiter. Or not.
- Smile. You really can tell over the phone. Don’t smile for the entire interview without stopping, as this might make you sound crazy. But smile when you normally would in an in-person conversation.
- Move around if you want to. You don’t have to sit motionless the whole time. But be careful if you have an old phone with a cord. A deafening crash could be disconcerting to both you and the interviewer.
- It sounds obvious, but make sure you know if you’re supposed to call them, or they’re supposed to call you. If it’s you, call on time; if it’s them, be ready and answer the call promptly (not on the first ring, of course).
- Make sure you get the correct contact info, including accurate spelling of the name, for the person (or persons, if it’s a conference call) who’s interviewing you, and email thank you letters to them within a day or two just as you would for a face-to-face interview.
- And last but not least, never do a phone interview in the bathroom, for reasons that should really be obvious to everyone, but apparently aren’t. And yes, I have been in a ladies’ room and actually heard someone clearly talking to an employer. I confess I flushed.