You are a star at in-person interviews, but even the most seasoned professional can have trouble when faced with the telephone interview. How can you be sure that you pass the telephone screening? Here are some guidelines that will help:
1. Practice on the phone. Telephone interviews are a completely different animal to in-person interviews. Keep in mind that between 60% to 70% of our communication is nonverbal.* When you are on the phone, you lose all of that and you are only left with verbal communication. By practicing on the phone, you can ensure that you are not depending on your facial expressions and body language to communicate your personality. Your voice has to carry it all. Make sure that your voice is strong and enthusiastic and don’t forget to smile. (Strangely, a smile does carry through over the phone.)
2. Make your answers good. Within this limited realm of communication, the content of your answers is more important than ever. It is a good idea to have your resume in front of you and to have a list of key messages. You can use them to help jog your memory, but don’t read from them. You don’t want to sound too scripted.
3. Find a quiet place to talk with no distractions. Listen carefully during your interview as the employer is evaluating your communication skills. If you don’t understand a question, ask them to repeat it. If it is not a good time for you, ask if you can schedule a time to call them back. If at all possible, it is best for you to take the call, but if you won’t be able to concentrate, it’s better for you to reschedule. For a phone interview, you should set aside at least 30 minutes.
4. Take it seriously and answer the questions carefully. You won’t usually get a job offer from a phone interview, but you can certainly get screened out.
5. Have professional and reliable voicemail. Anytime you are using the telephone for business purposes, pay careful attention to your voicemail. It is a reflection on you and your professionalism.
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