Perception vs. Reality: How to Ace a Phone Interview

It's a universal truth that the phone interview is more challenging, if not trickier, than the face-to-face interview. You may find it hard to believe, but your perception can be far from what happens during a phone interview.

You find an opening, but you must commute to the location. You won't mind at all, even braving the cold, dark nights (during winter). The requirements fit your skills, so you think no other applicant can be better than you. You look forward to a face-to-face interview until you've been told about the initial interview on phone. It's convenient for both recruiter (or employer) and candidates for the job, but you sense that it can take a longer time to prepare for it. Body language and facial expression dictate the course of the interview, and your presence of mind (or the lack of it) can spell success (or failure). It's not the case with the phone interview, as you won't figure out the person on the other line. There are many ways to know if you're on the right track.

A Checklist to Handle the Interviewer with Confidence

Smile while you answer the questions. You may wonder how smiling can help you in this case, as you don't have a clue on the recruiter's reaction to your responses. A smile should help you feel relaxed about the proceeding, which is very important in this set-up. You don't want to get nervous about the questions, which can be detected easily while on the line. It also helps you speak slowly especially if you have to highlight a particular task from your work experience. It might be too early to establish a rapport between you and the other person (on the line), but a good impression can lead to the next round of interview.

You must call the shots. You may be scratching your head on this one, even wonder if this can kill your chances of getting hired for the job. If you really think about it, this set-up should give you the advantages that you've been hoping all along. Not a few applicants would be unaware of it, afraid of offending the recruiter (or employer). If you're not making too many demands, then you're not stepping beyond the bounds. And you're not demanding at this point. In this particular instance, you choose a place where it's not too cozy or too noisy. (In this regard, you must skip the cafe shop.) You must mull over the use of the headset, which should help you concentrate on the interview. If the recruiter prefers the mobile phone, then forget about the public places. There's no such thing as a quiet one. (You can't risk the noise.) If you're a smart one, then you can negotiate about it. You won't get a second chance if you miss on something. You must pay more attention to the next item.

Never allow yourself to be caught in the hop. If you would do your homework, then there's no way that you would find yourself off guard during the interview. It doesn't matter if this is your first interview or you lost count of it, as your intelligence would be put to a test. There's no mystery behind it, as questions like "Is that what you needed to know?" and "Do you want me to go into more detail?" should keep you on the right path. The recruiter wouldn't take it against you, but keep your focus all throughout this conversation. You would know your cue (on where to ask the question). The length of the interview is another thing, which can be as short as ten minutes and long as an hour and a half. You should be careful if the interview is taking some time, as the person (on the other line) is becoming interested in every detail of your CV. And this includes the tidbit that you choose not to include (in your CV). You must reply to the question(s) in a slow, deliberate manner, emphasising on the skills that you can make you a perfect fit in the company (that you hope to become a part of). It’s your call to embellish some information, which may be asked during the final interview. You can worry about it after you’ve been informed of the good news.

How to End a Phone Interview

It’s possible that the recruiter (or employer) would end the interview with “I have all the information that I need.” or a statement that is close to that one. It’s a huge mistake to answer in an informal manner. You should leave a lasting impression, so tell that person what you can offer on the table. Don’t try too hard, as a mistake may come unexpectedly. (And regret can affect your composure for the next one.) It’s not wrong to ask for the contact details, though. You must send a thank-you note, as you might cross paths once more.

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