By Alison Doyle, About.com Guide
A phone interview sounds easy, doesn’t it? You don’t have to get dressed in your best interview attire, travel to a company’s office, or interview one-on-one with a hiring manager. Instead, you’re interviewing on the phone from the comfort of home.
It’s not as easy as it seems though. You can blow a phone interview just as easily as you can blow an in-person interview. Dropped calls, background noise, not knowing about the company, and/or not being prepared to respond to interview questions can knock you out of contention for a job.
Review these tips for how to conduct a phone interview and what not to do when you’re interviewing via the telephone to make sure your phone interviews get you to the next step in the hiring process.
Phone Interview Do’s and Don’ts
Create a checklist. Review the job posting and make a list of how your qualifications match the hiring criteria. Have the list available so you can glance at it during the interview. Also have a copy of your resume in clear view, so you don’t have to remember what you did when.
Research the job and the company. Take some time to research the job and the company. The more prepared you are for the interview, the smoother it will go.
Prepare for phone interview questions. Review answers to typical phone interview questions and think about how you’re going to respond.
Use a land line. Unless your cell phone service is 100% all the time, use a land line instead of a cell phone. That way you won’t have to worry about dropped calls and getting disconnected.
Turn off call waiting. If you have call waiting turn it off. The beep of an incoming call is distracting and can make you lose your focus.
Get rid of the distractions. Interview in a private quiet space. That means securing a babysitter if you have small children at home and kicking the dog, the cat, and the rest of the household members out of your interview space.
Have a glass of water nearby. There isn’t much worse than having a tickle in your throat or a cough starting when you need to talk on the phone. Have a glass of water handy so you can take a quick sip if your mouth gets dry or there’s a catch in your throat.
Take notes. It’s hard to remember what you discussed after the fact, so take brief notes during the interview.
Focus, listen, and enunciate. It’s important to focus on the interview and that can be harder on the phone than in-person. Be sure to listen to the question, ask for clarification if you’re not sure what the interviewer is asking, and speak slowly, carefully, and clearly when you respond. It’s fine to take a few seconds to compose your thoughts before you answer.
Pay attention to body language. This might sound strange, but your body language matters on the phone almost as much as it does during a face-to-face meeting. Focus on the interviewer, smile, and think positive. You’ll make a better impression.
Multi-task. This won’t work for everyone, but if you can multi-task have the company’s website open in your browser, so you can quickly check for company information if it comes up in the conversation.
Have questions to ask the interviewer ready. Be prepared to respond when the interview asks whether you have any questions for him or her. Review these questions to ask the interviewer and have a few ready in advance.
Follow up after the phone interview. Ask for the interviewer’s email address, if you don’t already have it. Send out an email thank you note immediately, thanking the interviewer and reiterating your interest in the job. Use your thank you note as a way, as well, to provide information on anything regarding your qualifications you didn’t get a chance to mention during the phone interview.