In some ways, a phone interview can almost be more nerve-wracking than an in-person one. Most people are somewhat self-conscious about how they sound on the phone and without being able to read your interviewer's body language and facial expressions it can be hard to get a read on how the interview is going. There's also seemingly more anticipation leading up to the interview. Your phone is in front of you, maybe it's a minute or two past the scheduled time and it's easy to wonder about all the things that could potentially go wrong. What if the phone lines go down? What if the interviewer is held up in a meeting? However, a phone interview doesn't have to be a cause of anxiety. Here are five tips to help you nail your next one:
1. Find a quiet setting
Seems obvious, right? Of course you don't want background noise from traffic, chatter or music during a phone interview. To avoid this, make sure you are taking the call in a quiet environment with reliable phone service. Consider every detail of where you will take the call. For example, you may frequent a small, quiet coffeehouse down the street from your apartment, but what happens if the barista turns on the espresso machine or steams some milk? Anticipate any possible interruption.
Furthermore, it's important to know when to take an impromptu interview and when to reschedule. If a hiring manager calls out of the blue and asks if you have time to chat, don't say yes if you're in the middle of something. Politely explain the situation and reschedule so that you have time to prepare and find a better setting for taking the call.
2. Know the position thoroughly
For most phone interviews, you'll have an adequate amount of time to research the company and review the job description. However, again it's important to be ready for an impromptu phone conversation. When you're job hunting, odds are you'll have several irons in the fire at any given point, so it's imperative not to mix them up. Make sure to keep track of every position to which you apply and that you're ready to have a basic conversation regarding any of them.
3. Have your application materials in front of you
If the phone interview has been scheduled in advance, be sure to have a copy of the job description, your resume, your cover letter and any other application materials on hand during your conversation. This way when the interviewer asks about an aspect of your resume or cover letter you can see exactly what he or she is referencing. Also, write down several questions you have about the position in advance, as most interviewers will leave time for you to voice your inquiries at the end of the interview.
4. Avoid rambling
Since you can't see the person on the other end of the line during a phone interview, it's natural to want to fill any gaps in conversation, which can lead to rambling. Be cognizant of how much time you are taking to answer each question, especially if a finite amount of time has been allotted for the interview. In many cases, recruiters and hiring managers have to stick to a pretty rigid schedule, and if you stick to one talking point for too long it may limit your time to address other questions and concerns.
5. Exude confidence
Confidence has a way of revealing itself over the phone. Even though the interviewer can't see you, any anxiety or nervousness will likely be inflected in your voice. Prepare for the interview thoroughly and then you'll be able to answer the phone confidently and professionally.