When you’re looking for a new job, it’s a good idea to be ready to market yourself at a moment’s notice. Beyond the essential elevator speech, you may need to be ready for a more formal interaction, too. These days, many employers prefer phone interviews as the first point of contact with a prospective employee, and while most will schedule a time beforehand, some employers and recruiters may call out of the blue and ask if you’ve got a few minutes to talk. The answer to that question must be, “yes.” Time to put your best foot forward and secure the next-level, face-to-face interview. Our senior living industry recruiters offer these phone interview tips.
First, test your equipment. If you’ve access to a landline this is preferable, but if you plan to use your cell phone or a headset, call a friend and have them assess the sound quality. Make any necessary adjustments. Practice a call with a friend or family member asking standard interview questions and giving you frank feedback on your responses. As with any interview, be ready to discuss your strengths and weaknesses, and field questions about your experience and qualifications. Place your resume in a spot where you can grab it quickly and be ready to discuss it.
Practice overcoming the drawbacks of the phone interview by pretending you are face-to-face. It’s easy to sound bored on the phone, yet you want to express your excitement and passion for this position sufficiently enough that the interviewer wants to meet you in person. So smile, nod, and gesture with your hands as you normally would - this energy will come across in your voice.
PREP YOUR SPACE
Make sure your environment is quiet. If you are at home, ask a friend to watch your kids and pets for an hour so you don’t have to worry about crying or barking. It is easier for the interviewer to be distracted over the phone and you want to keep his/her full attention on you. Conversely, you want your full attention on him/her. If you are using a land line turn your cell phone off, turn off call waiting and all alarms, and don’t leave anything baking in the oven.
MIND YOUR MANNERS
It is much easier to interrupt someone over the phone versus in person, so make sure the interviewer is finished talking before jumping in. If your interviewer likes to ask a lot of questions at once, take notes, patiently wait for him/her to be done, then start addressing the questions from the top. It’s OK to take some time to gather your thoughts but try not to let any dead air drag on for too long. Oh, and remember what your mother told you: use titles (Mr., Ms., Dr., etc.), and say please and thank you.
Some employers like to use Skype for the first interview. It creates a nice middle ground between in-person and phone interviews, and many of our phone interview tips still apply, but Skype comes with its own challenges. Again, prepping is the key – set up the camera or laptop in the place you plan to do the interview. Arrange the camera so that you are looking straight at it, or slightly up, rather than down. Mind your background. If you are at home, take some time to arrange the shelves or artwork behind you so it looks neat and organized, and so that it doesn’t look like a plant is growing out of your head. Dress the part (at least from the waist up). Lastly, and most importantly, when it is your turn to talk – look at the camera, not at the person on the screen. This will give the interviewer the impression you are looking directly at them, rather than slightly down. And remember to keep the same smile and energy as if you were face to face.
We wish you the best of luck in your job search and hope these phone interview tips help you land the job.