The phone interview seems innocuous enough, but many applicants don’t realize its importance. Whether it lasts 10 or 30 minutes, that conversation can make or break your chances of getting hired. If you’re unlucky enough to annoy the interviewer, it could be over in seconds.
Unfortunately, because most phone interviews are short, not to mention it’s only done once per applicant, there’s very little time to recover from a poor response. So it’s best to prepare in advance.
Knowing what can go wrong can help you prevent it from happening in the first place.
Costly Mistakes to Avoid During Phone Interviews
Forgetting to Talk like a Normal Person
It’s normal to get nervous during a phone interview, but that doesn’t mean the interviewer won’t hold that against you. Stammering, using word fillers and talking too fast or too slow makes a bad impression, so try to talk naturally. Don’t get too informal with the interviewer though. Just pace yourself and remember to explain things clearly.
Taking it slow allows you to collect your thoughts and say the right things, and it improves your pronunciation, making you easier to understand.
Know When to Stop and When You’re Missing the Point
Many applicants ramble aimlessly, forgetting the whole point of the question they were asked. Phone interviews often take 30 minutes at most, so if you’ve been talking non-stop for five minutes – and yet haven’t made your point – then it’s time to step back and remember the question being asked.
Understandably, situational questions will take longer to answer. For such situations, it’s best to have a prepared answer – or a structure for that answer at least. You can prepare a cheat sheet, if you like. After all, it’s a phone interview. Nobody said you can’t use one.
Failing to Ask Questions
Asking questions signals your interest in the position. It also shows that you’re inquisitive and have initiative. Ask questions about the next steps of the hiring process, and get a better sense of the job description. Better yet, ask about career advancements to signal your eagerness to learn and grow with the company. By learning more about the company and what they are looking for, you can steer the conversation in your favor by using their points to solidify why you are the perfect choice.
It is “We” not “I”
When applying for a company, expect that you will be a “part” of that company. It’s never a good idea to portray yourself as someone who thinks he can be the savior of the company.
Sure, it’s important to talk of yourself and your achievements. But don’t portray yourself as a lone operator. More and more companies are looking for applicants based on ‘cultural fit’, so even if you’re quite accomplished, there’s a huge chance they can find someone just as accomplished as you – but is a better fit for the team.
No one expects to hire an island so don’t sell yourself as one.
Remember, a phone interview, although a mere preliminary process, is an important part of the job application.
In all cases, the success of the phone interview lies on the preparations you make beforehand. I suggest you prepare a list of talking points and practice in front of a mirror before you step up to the plate and take a swing.
* Guest post by Michelle Riklan of Riklan Resources, Inc. Michelle is an international award-winning resume writer, the Managing Director of Riklan Resources, Inc. as well as the co-founder of Five Star Career Services, and the co-founder of Self-Improvement Online. Connect with Michelle Riklan on LinkedIn.