How to impress during a phone interview

When you’re on the hunt for a new job, you know that interviews are just part of the process. You may love them or hate them, but they are expected and shouldn’t come as a surprise. But, these days more and more employers are using phone interviews to screen out candidates, which could cause anxiety for some job seekers

Forbes explains that this allows employers to “sort through candidates without committing to the expense and time required for on-site meet-ups.”

Job board and career advisement site Monster.com echoes the same observations. “Many companies use phone interviews as an initial employment screening technique for a variety of reasons. Because they’re generally brief, phone interviews save companies time. They also serve as a more realistic screening alternative for cases in which companies are considering out-of-town, or out-of-state, or international candidates.”

With that reality in mind, it’s important that job seekers begin to anticipate the likelihood of phone interviews. Here’s five tips to help you ace your next phone interview and make the right impression within the first 30 minutes.

Treat It Like Any Other Interview
As one hiring manager told Yahoo Finance, “A phone interview is still an interview, not an informal phone call with a friend.” You still have to be ready to put your best foot forward. SO, be ready for some tough interview questions.

Set Yourself Up For a Win
Before your phone interview, you need to have confirmed several pieces of important information. Double-check the exact time of the call; find out the anticipated length of time the call will last; and clarify who’s calling whom, and who will be on the call. All of this information will help you know what to expect and be better prepared for the interview so you’ll make a good first impression.

Check Your Sound
Obviously you want your phone and environment to be conducive to the best call possible, but there’s another sound element that’s even more vital: the sound of your own voice. In fact, Forbes found that a job candidate not sounding awake, alert, and excited is the number one phone interview mistake. “Without visual cues, interviewers are paying extra close attention to the content of your answers and anything else they can glean from your voice. So, lackluster answers or low energy could be interpreted as a lack of interest…”

That means you need to be fully awake, have warmed up your voice, and have a smile on your face by the time the phone rings so they’re immediately impressed with your voice.

Do Your Homework
Just like an in-person interview, you should thoroughly research the company, position, and interviewers prior to the scheduled call. One of the plus-sides to phone interviews is you can have all your notes spread out and readily available to you during the conversation. However, don’t think you can research on the fly while you’re talking with the potential employer. You want everything organized in front of you so that when you need to reference your notes you aren’t distracted and the interviewers don’t hear the sound of rustling papers or typing. Being prepared to ask a thoughtful question or make an insightful comment will start the interview out on the right foot.

Be an Active Listener
In a phone interview, you don’t have the luxury of facial expressions or body language to aid in your listening and comprehension – you have to utilize your active listening skills. This is important throughout the entire phone call and vital to giving an overall good impression, but it’s especially important for the beginning of the call. You’ll want to match the names of the interviewers to their voices, allowing you to better phrase and direct your responses as the interview proceeds, and help you in the very important follow-up process.

US News explains it this way, “Employers usually have far more qualified candidates than they can interview, so they’ll look for ways to narrow down that pool. If you sound low-energy, unfriendly, distracted, or simply unprofessional, or if you chronically interrupt or don’t communicate clearly, they’ll put you straight into the ‘no’ pile.” That means you must learn to ace phone interviews if you hope to impress potential employers and land the job you want.

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