We’ve Got Your Number: Handling A Phone Interview
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
No matter how long we’ve been out of the job market and eager to get back in, or how much we need to move on from our current career to another one, and regardless of our extensive experience, applying for a job can be “overwhelming’. In fact, it can be downright intimidating. And, it’s generally not the job or the duties entailed, but rather the anxiety associated with preparing, pitting ourselves against other eligible “contestants”, and surviving and acing the interview.
And, phone interviews can be just as tough. Sure you can avoid worrying about “dressing for success”, but you still have to “impress for success” and without personal, visual interaction and communication, it’s hard to “read” your interviewer or get any kind of feedback.
But, according to face-to-face interviews you can ace these two. Here is what the suggest:
1. Be Prepared: According to experts, there are two types of phone interviews, expected and impromptu. And, because the latter “is” a possibility they recommend have essentials easily accessible at all times, even in the car. They suggest keeping a file of “employer research” according to employer and company along with a fresh copy of your resume, allowing you to easily answer questions about your experience. Also doing company research can aid you in compiling questions for your interviewer. Plus, having a pen and paper handy is probably also a great idea.
In the case of expected interviews, you should allocate time that will be distraction-free. You should also keep a glass of water handy just in case you get “nervous” and have to clear your throat. And, you should make sure you’ve eaten and have used the restroom before your expected call. Again, have a copy of your resume handy along with any other pertinent information and materials that will help move the interview along smoothly.
It’s important, note professionals, to keep in mind that phone interviews are just as official and important as those conducted in person. And, it’s important that you implement the following strategies:
2. Stay within the parameters of your comfort zone: Determine and define your strengths, weaknesses and limitations. Remember, some people perform better in a quiet room while others prefer to stand up or pace around. Know what works best for you. But, also be sure that there are no “obvious” noise distractions such as loud sirens, alarms, doorbells ringing, etc. If you need to walk around, perhaps you should just walk around the house, and at least for the interim of the interview keep the windows closed.
3. Grin and bear it: Sometimes, in fact more often than not, your attitude and disposition can be conveyed simply by how present yourself. Even positivity and negativity can be clearly conveyed over the phone. So, just before the interview experts suggest listening to some of your favorite tunes, watching something that makes you happy, talking to your best friend, anything that will make you smile and put you in a “good mood”. Remember, if you’re smiling, that “will” come through loud and clear
4. Put the kabash on call waiting: You really don’t want ANY interference. And, if you’re not able to disable, simply ignore it if someone calls. By the way always give friends and family an alternate phone number or way to contact you in case of emergency if that’s one of your concerns.
5. Dress the part: Is this really necessary? Well, according to the pros, dressing up, even in what we consider business casual can boost your confidence and make a difference in your concentration, confidence, and focus. They also suggest that wearing the right clothes can help you speak and “act” more professionally, even while being interviewed over the phone. Also, if you’re talking on your cell, do you best to make sure there is no wind or other distractions in the vicinity, so that you can hear ALL the questions and so that the interviewer can clearly hear you. And, make sure you’re not in a location where calls are likely to be dropped. Pull over if you have to.
6. Clear your mind and your mouth: Try to focus on the interview and interview only. Don’t look around or daydream while the interviewer is talking. Also, refrain from chewing gum, eating, drinking (unless it’s urgent) or smoking. According to experts these activities may interfere with vocal chords during the interview.
7. Listen Carefully: Remember without the visual, it can be challenging to decipher when to stop talking, especially if you are “nervous”, leading you to make the mistake of talking too much. Start by speaking slowly and articulately and stop after you’ve answered the question, without extrapolating. Then allow for a moment or two of silence. This gives the interviewer a heads up that you are done and that you are ready for him or her to proceed. Listen intently and wait for them to finish before jumping in with a response, you may even consider taking notes with key aspects of each question.
8. Take a stand: Elongating your torso, give you’re the advantage of having the full capacity of your lungs, thus being able to speak more clearly, confidently and powerfully.
9. Rehearse: Remember, practice makes perfect, so doing some mock phone interviews with friends and/or family may help ease the tension and build your confidence for the real thing.
10. Avoid “annoying”accessories: Earrings and other embellishments may cause distractions, as may bracelets, (some) hair clips, etc. So, according to experts, it’s best not to wear them.
11. Say no to speaker phone: Enough said
12. Take names: make sure to ask for your interviewers name and follow up with an thank you email and a hand-written thank your note.
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