Diary of a Telephone Interview

Great news!  My resume engaged the interest of a company.  Now, they are eager to know more about me and have scheduled a telephone interview.  I’m excited about the job and know that this company will benefit from the results I’ve delivered in the past.  But how do I show them what a strong candidate I am when they won’t see me?  My business attire, smile, handshake, and typical professional presentation don’t factor into this event.   I must convince the interviewer to want to meet me, but how?

I know that in today’s job market, telephone interviews are commonly utilized to expedite the selection of final candidates for in-person meetings.  No longer just a screening process, this meeting time will be devoted to an actual evaluation of my credibility, skills, and communication style.  The interviewer will also try to get a sense of how I would fit into the organization’s culture.

Preparing for the Phone Interview

Before the interview, I can gain an advantage by preparing thoroughly.  Researching the company will demonstrate sincere interest in working for the company – I can ask relevant questions and answer questions about why I want to work there.  Not only did I research the company, but I located and reviewed the interviewer’s profile on LinkedIn.   I am empowered by the preparation.

The next  advantage I can give myself is to take the time to create a couple of pages of bulleted characteristics and phrases that address commonly asked questions and then practice speaking in front of a mirror so I can watch my facial expressions and listen to myself.  Even though I won’t be seen on the phone interview, my facial expressions are important. If I smile and keep my eyes alert, I will convey positive energy through my voice.  If I frown or look somber, the interviewer will sense low energy or lack of enthusiasm.

Examples of points I will practice responding to include, “Tell me about yourself…”, my characteristics for success, proudest accomplishments, why I am the best candidate, what I know about this company, my strengths and areas for improvement, etc.   Additionally, I will draft a list of questions to ask during the call.  I am ready.

During the interview, I must not be interrupted.  I have dedicated a quiet space in my home without distractions of noise, radios, pets, children, phones ringing, etc. And, a “do not disturb” sign hangs on my door.

My resume, research notes, and questions are front and center on my desk.  Pencil and paper are at-ready to jot down notes and to edit my question list as the interview progresses. A cool glass of water is nearby to handle a frog in my throat, and I know that taking an occasional quiet sip will relax my voice.

Using my landline telephone will ensure a more reliable signal than I might have on my mobile phone. I will speak directly into the phone for the best clarity, but a headset could work well for me so I can write and gesture while speaking.   Speakerphones are not recommended – they often sound like a tunnel and have a tendency to make me shout.

I must remember to breathe deeply and relax my voice before the call, which also helps settle those butterflies.  I  stand up and look forward.  When I do this, my voice sounds stronger and more smooth.   As for that professional business attire, I decided to wear it even though it can’t be seen. It reminds me that I am a confident professional and I know that this image projects in my voice.

During the Phone Interview

The phone is ringing, and I take one more deep breath.  I am prepared and confident that I will communicate my value and qualifications with top-notch delivery.

I say hello with a smile that can be heard and projects control, warmth, and confidence.   Let them ask me anything!

I express myself with articulate, well-paced, deliberate information but keep my responses a bit shorter than I will when I tell my stories in person.  After all this preparation, my personality shows as I vary the tone of my voice to demonstrate my enthusiasm for this work, to display my energy, to communicate my positive attitude, and to project that I am someone they want to work in their organization.  I stay  professional and refrain from becoming too friendly or laughing too much, but I am still smiling.

Courtesy matters and facilitates what is happening.  Please, thank you, and excuse me are always on the tip of my tongue as needed.  A few well-placed pauses during responses give the interviewer a chance to clarify a point or reframe a question.

The interviewer wraps up and asks if I have questions.  I use my edited list of questions and notes to demonstrate good listening and a keen interest in the organization and the position. I also ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of their priorities and the expectations of their selected candidate.

The interviewer will let me know next steps by the end of this week.  I am excited and express appreciation for the time and consideration.  I expect my interviewer is a busy person so I also ask  permission to follow up and ask for a suggested time frame.  This will prevent me from waiting too long or guessing my outcome. I am wise to take ownership of part of this process.

After the Phone Interview

I hang up, update my campaign tracker, and relax in anticipation of good results no matter what type of interview was conducted. I’m expecting to be invited into the company for an in-person meeting.  A recruiter offers to present my resume to an additional employer.  A networking connection refers me to someone within their network.  All good things are in store for me!

By: Janice Colangelo