How to Handle a Telephone Interview

I wanted to take a couple of moments to share with you how to prepare for a telephone interview that is listed in my book “Handbook to Getting Hired in Today’s Recession”. • Take time to relax before you make the call. Find a place that is quiet and where you will not be disturbed and make the call from that location, if you are making the call. • If you are surprised by a call from the interviewer at an inopportune time or you are at a location with no privacy, try to reschedule the conversation at the interviewer’s convenience. It will only hurt and distract you to continue through a phone interview with numerous distractions. • Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum while talking. Make sure there is no background noise that could detract from the conversation. • Speak with appropriate enthusiasm and energy. Stand up straight or walk while you talk. When you are standing and walking around, your voice will sound much more positive. It also helps the intonation of your voice to smile while you talk. • Let the interviewer guide the agenda. • Take notes There are two distinct styles that interviewers use for telephone interviews. It is important for you to be prepared for both. 1. Structured: This style of telephone interview is where the interviewer maintains tight control of the interview and has specified questions to ask. This is done to maintain a high degree of consistency in the content and format for each interview when there may be many people conducting interviews with many candidates. This is by far the more difficult of the two styles. It is important for you to remain calm and answer the direct line of questioning with poise and thoughtful answers. It is definitely a must to be in a private location during this type of interview. 2. Unstructured: This type of interview is more of a “go with the flow” style where an experienced recruiter can ask broad and general questions to allow you to control the interview. Now this can be good and bad. The good part is that you have the ability to further sell yourself than you would if you were controlled by directly asked questions. The bad part is that it allows you to dig yourself into a hole. Part of the interviewer’s strategy in this line of questioning is to give you (the interviewee) the opportunity to share information that you normally would not want the interviewer to know. You do this by speaking before you think because of nervousness. As an experienced interviewer myself, I can attest that this happens to most people who are not experienced at interviewing. Do not let this happen to you. Stay calm and think before you speak. It is important to talk a majority of the time, but do not talk yourself right out of the job. Those that prepare more than others have a history of winning. Make sure that you prepare. That way nothing will throw you off too much. Knowledge usually transfers to power and confidence to competence. The more that you inform yourself, the more knowledge you will have about the process. That knowledge will turn into confidence and competence.