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What you should know about Telephone Interview Etiquette

by Karin Schroeck-Singh



Few people get a job solely on the basis of a telephone interview. As a job applicant it is your task to convince the recruiter that you are as good as you sound on paper. The more articulate you are during the interview the higher your chances might be of getting the job. A phone interview helps the recruiter to shortlist candidates and to focus on the best ones only.

Phone interviews are horrifying to some job applicants and painless to others. No matter how you feel about phone interviews, there are strategies that you can apply in order to excel. I would like to give you some tips how you can improve on it:

Do's:

Do your research! Make sure you research: the company, the interviewer, the job and the industry. In a recent survey it showed that lack of research was the mistake number one in job interviews.

Prepare answers to the most commonly asked questions, such as "Why should we hire you, where do you see yourself in 5 years' time, your strengths and weaknesses" etc.

Give the employer the correct phone number . The one you are easily reachable, be it the landline or your mobile phone. If you choose the latter then make sure your batteries are recharged!

Make sure the reception is perfect.

Arrange the call on a day and time in which you can be relaxed and focused, taking and reading notes.

Make sure 'YOU' pick up the phone by yourself. It would not give the best impression if your toddler answers the phone and tells the recruiter that you are just having a shower … In that case switch on your voice mail and try to leave a message that sounds professional.

Make sure that the
interviewer can hear you properly.

Don't say: "Please speak up!" It would be better to say something like "I'm having problems hearing you. Can you hear me clearly?"

Standing rather than sitting during the interview makes your voice sound more professional, well, this is what experts think. You can give it a try and see how you feel about it.

A nice idea would also be to take note of the interviewer's name and during the conversation mention the name once in a while, e.g. when asking questions. This helps to establish a more personal relationship to the interviewer. But don't overdo it!

Keep your notes, your CV and answers to certain questions visually in front of you or stick it to the wall, so that you don't forget anything.

Try to finish the interview with an impressive end.

Ask impressive questions whose answers you couldn't find on the company's website or any other source.

If you applied for a job in which you are supposed to deal a lot with people on the phone, remember, that it is particularly important to come across as a friendly, competent person because for the interviewer THIS is the perfect opportunity to test how you manage phone calls.

You can keep a glass of water nearby, but make sure you are not too close to the phone. Your interviewer should not hear you drinking the water which might keep your voice from becoming dry.

The
same is valid for sneezing and coughing. Well, what would you do if you really can't avoid it? Well, then have at least the courtesy to apologize for it.

Also remember that the focus in this interview lies on your communication skills. Your appearance and body language - which are obviously not visible - play a less important role: but also here there are experts who believe that being well dressed and having a relaxed posture does have an impact on your voice.

Regarding 'voice', practice in expressing yourself clearly. I suggest you record your voice and listen to yourself so that in the end you will come across as a friendly, competent, enthusiastic and confident candidate for the job. Ask also your friends for some sincere feedback.
Smile, smile, smile! Also this makes you to a friendlier candidate! From my own personal experience: Many years ago I attended a course in which they taught me effective phone skills. Well, you might be surprised but one of the tips that they gave me was to place a mirror in front of me in order to smile more easily and naturally. Well, I never had any problems in smiling… However, it was an interesting tip to take into consideration.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Ask a friend to do a role-play with you, in order to give you an idea what it will be like. Or tape record yourself and then listen to your voice. Would you hire the voice you just heard?

Take your time to think about how you are going to answer the questions. This is perfectly fine.
For those who are wearing earrings: take them off, since it might make too much noise over the phone.

Thank the interviewer on the phone for his/her time once the interview is finished.

Have a proper ringtone as opposed to having a suggestive song.
After the interview follow up with a thank-you note. (More tips on how to write a thank you note - after a job interview - can be found in another lesson on LearnHub. If you need help have a look at it!)

If you miss the call and the recruiter leaves a message on your voice mail or answering machine then make sure you call back as soon as possible (possibly on the same day during business hours).

When returning the call mention your full name and explain to the recruiter that you are returning the call for the xy position. It might be that the recruiter made a lot of other calls on that same day for the same position you applied for. Therefore it is important that he/she understands who called.

Don'ts:

If there are pauses during the interview you should not feel obliged to fill the gaps. But you can use these pauses to ask a question based on your last answer, for example.

Don't sound as if you would be reading your answers.

Avoid slang terms.

Don't interrupt the interviewer and let him/her take the lead.
Some general advice: chewing gum, eating, smoking and other noises such as children, dogs, also TV, etc. should be avoided during a phone interview.

Avoid flipping through books or looking up info on Google while you are being interviewed over phone. Make sure you do your research beforehand.
So, if you are successful in your phone interview by following these tips your chances of being invited to the company's office for a face-to-face (second) interview might be pretty good.
I wish you best of luck!!!

Image Credit: Jamie Blankenship, antmoose, Jairo BD, takemytaste, Alessandro Verne, steakpinball

3 Comments
    shubham95
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    Shubham SharmaWed, 18 Nov 2009 16:01:04 -0000

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    KathyGreen
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    Kathy GreenWed, 04 Feb 2009 04:05:36 -0000

    Some very thoughtful and important suggestions that I had never really considered, in particular, standing during the phone interview. It alters everything-your voice, as you mentioned as you breathe more deeply. But as well, you really do feel more alert and on top of things. No jewelry on ears is a great tip too. It really is annoying and distracting!! I recently did a phone interview for a volunteer position for the 2010 Olympics, and will do another one shortly. I am very used to public speaking, but the lack of face to face contact left me less sure of myself. I ill re-read this great list and I will indeed smile and use a mirror. Thanks a lot!!

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    KathyGreen
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    Kathy GreenWed, 04 Feb 2009 04:05:30 -0000

    Some very thoughtful and important suggestions that I had never really considered, in particular, standing during the phone interview. It alters everything-your voice, as you mentioned as you breathe more deeply. But as well, you really do feel more alert and on top of things. No jewelry on ears is a great tip too. It really is annoying and distracting!! I recently did a phone interview for a volunteer position for the 2010 Olympics, and will do another one shortly. I am very used to public speaking, but the lack of face to face contact left me less sure of myself. I ill re-read this great list and I will indeed smile and use a mirror. Thanks a lot!!

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    Karin
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    Karin Schroeck-SinghTue, 10 Feb 2009 23:30:47 -0000

    Great to know that you found these tips so useful, Kathy. I can just wish you the best of luck for your next phone interview and hope you get the job!

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About the Author

Karin
Name:
About: I’m a certified Business Etiquette Trainer with 13 years of work experience in Recruitment, Office Management, Market Research, Teaching & Training. I love helping individuals and businesses gain a competitive edge by strengthening their professionalism, corporate image and productivity. Furthermore, I’m the podcaster of the MAC Show (The Manners And Career Show) on www.MannersAndCareer.com—> http://blog.mannersandcareer.com. If I’m not on Learnhub, I like to spend time with my family, watch Bollywood movies and use any opportunity to learn and develop myself further. My personality? Ambitious, hardworking, creative, disciplined, great organiser, highly self-motivated, with lots of passion and enthusiasm, always in search of differentiation and trying to exceed expectations. “Enthusiasm is the daily food of successful people. It makes ordinary people EXTRAORDINARY!”

Last Updated At Dec 07, 2012
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