MN Business Tip Of The Day: Ace The Phone Interview

February 20, 2014  |  

It has become a normal practice for jobs to request a phone interview before scheduling an in-person meeting. At the phone stage, you’ll likely be dealing with someone in HR whose role is to pave the way for the hiring manager to decide which candidates to bring in for a more serious discussion. This person will be seeking to gain basic information on multiple candidates and making initial judgments about personality, temperament, communication styles, and other important factors.

Be prepared to explain every job transition. You’ll likely be asked to walk through your resume, so be sure you have a copy of the same resume you submitted  in order to go through why you made certain career decisions, how you got any promotions, or about short job stints or any gaps.

Keep your answers short as this part is usually just a way of ticking off boxes unless you give signals that there is more that meets the eye. During this resume review however, be aware of your red flags and head them off. By knowing what issues could snag a potential employers eye ahead of time, you can be prepared with answers that quickly move the conversation along.

Although you’ll be answering a lot of questions, remember that the interview is also about gleaning your level of self-confidence and a bit about your personality. To that end don’t rush when speaking and keep an even tone of voice. Don’t hesitate to show your personality through an appropriate joke or by asking questions that invite greater detail. This will help show confidence and your willingness to communicate. Use the time to ask questions about the company and specific aspects of the job (which you should expect toward the end) as a way to show your enthusiasm. Avoid asking about their hiring process, start dates, salary, benefits, or anything else they can do for you. Focus instead on how you plan on helping them.

Finally, and most obviously, arrange to be in a quiet, well-lit room, free from distractions. Whenever possible use a landline rather than a shaky cell connection. Practice, breeze through the phone interview, and land the job, all without missing a beat!

[Just as popular these days are interviews via Skype. We’ve got tips for handling those as well. Click here.]

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