Tuesday, June 9, 2015

5 Things to Help You Ace a Phone Interview

The minute you apply for a job, the preparation must begin.

That means that once you hit "send" to email your resume or application to a company, you need to be on your toes. Are you ready to be interviewed in five minutes when the telephone rings and the hiring manager wants to talk about your qualifications?

No? Why not? Were you possibly thinking that a hiring manager would contact you and say, "I'll be calling you in a week to interview you over the telephone. Be ready to answer the questions I'm going to send you via email."

Not. Going. To. Happen.

While the chances are slim that you'll be called five minutes after sending your resume, there is the chance you're going to be caught unaware when a hiring manager does call. Many people apply for jobs, then sort of forget about them as they continue to apply for other positions or get distracted by other things.

They don't take the time to immediately begin preparing for a job interview. They think they'll get some kind of warning that a phone interview will take place, when that's often not the case. Sometimes a hiring manager will just pick up the phone and call. Early in the morning -- when you're asleep because  you were out late the night before.

Or, the hiring manager calls at dinnertime, when the kids are screaming and fighting, the dog is chasing the cat and the burning pork chops have set off the smoke alarm.

Still think you don't need to prepare for the job interview right away?

Here are some ways to make sure you don't give the worst interview of your life when a hiring manager calls:

  • Practice your pitch. You want to be able to sell yourself to the hiring manager who calls. Can you concisely talk about your skills and experience -- and do it in a way that sounds interesting and personable?
  • Screen your calls. While it's tempting to pick up the phone immediately when you see on caller ID that it's a hiring manager, it's better to get to a quiet space -- or wake up -- before you attempt a serious conversation.
  • Keep copies of your resume and/or cover letter nearby. If you're applying for numerous jobs, you don't want to get confused and emphasize the wrong skills to the wrong employer when the hiring manager calls. So keep a file handy that includes notes about the job, the skills you pitched and a bit about the employer. 
  • Take a breath and smile. Before you pick up the phone, take a deep breath so that you don't sound winded or rushed. Remember to smile and stand up if possible -- those things will make you sound friendly and confident.
  • Be careful. Remember that a hiring manager's job is to put you at ease and solicit as much information as possible. The phone can make conversations seem more private, when the truth is a hiring manager may be letting other people sit in on the call. You want to be personable -- without revealing that you're suffering from the mother of all hangovers or that you hate wearing a suit to work (as three people in suits listen to your rant).

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