By Morgan Lewis
Phone interviews are now commonplace and, most likely, candidates’ only opportunity to make a good first impression. A phone interview is no less formal than an in-person interview, and candidates should be prepared to maximize the opportunity when the chance for a call comes up.
Here are a few things you can do when gearing up for a phone interview to make the experience more effective and valuable for both you and your interviewer:
1. Disconnect from outside distractions: Make sure you are in a quiet space for your interview. Kids, dogs and background noise will offset your focus. Find a room where you can set up any materials you may need to reference during the conversation, and treat the call as if you were taking it in a professional space.
2. Test your phone connection: Using a landline for you interview is your safest bet for a good connection, but in a world where most people rely on mobile devices, it is a good idea to plan ahead. Find a location where you know you’ll have a strong connection, and little risk of dropping the call.
3. Have your resume handy: You’ll likely have to walk through your work experience during your interview, so make sure you have your resume (and all other important documents) accessible. It’s always best to have physical copies at the ready to eliminate the possibility of technical difficulties. Practice discussing your resume with a family member or friend – walk him or her through each company you worked for, and your responsibilities and accomplishments in each role you held.
4. Get ready to take notes: Have a pen and paper nearby so you can write down information that may be useful later. Be sure to tell the interviewer that you are jotting down notes in order to avoid an awkward pause in the conversation.
5. Practice: In preparation for your interview, take some time to evaluate your phone presence. Use a recording device to tape a mock interview, and review your tone, speed, energy and overall performance. This is a great exercise for even the experienced phone interviewer.
6. Don’t forget to smile: It may sound silly, but smiling when you’re on the phone will help you sound more fluid and comfortable. Be engaging, and pretend as though you are sitting face-to-face with your interviewer – that enthusiasm and warmth will come through in your conversation.