Telephone Interview Preparation

In preparing for your phone interview, there are several things you can do. First of all, keep in mind that a phone interview is not always a scheduled event. So you need to be prepared to go into interview mode on a moment's notice. To prepare in advance for an unscheduled or unexpected contact:

  • Tape your resume to a wall where you can view it while on the phone. It will be there for any call (planned or unplanned) and will be a constant reminder for your job search.
  • Keep all of your employer research materials within easy reach.
  • Have a notepad available to take notes.
  • Keep a mirror nearby (see below).

If the phone interview is to occur at a set time, there are some additional steps you can take. Five to ten minutes before the scheduled time:

  • Go in a quiet room and place a "Do Not Disturb" note on the door.
  • Turn off your stereo, TV, and any other potential distraction.
  • Warm up your voice while waiting for the call. Sing an uplifting song to yourself or read your resume out loud.
  • Have a glass of water handy, since you will not have a chance to take a break during the call.
  • Speaking of breaks, if your interview is at a set time, make sure you answer nature's call first.
  • Turn off or silence the secondary call ringtone on your phone.

The Open and Available Phone Interview Technique

You have a major advantage in a telephone interview that does not exist in a face-to-face interview. Namely, you cannot be seen. Use this to your advantage.

Have all of your materials on yourself and the employer open and available on your desk as you are speaking on the phone. This includes not only your resume, but also a cheat sheet of compelling story subjects you would like to introduce. It can also include key information about the employer, including specific critical points describing the employer and their products. Although you can keep your laptop open to a specific page at the employer website, you want to avoid mouse clicks and keyboard taps in the background, so it's usually better to just print off relevant material in advance.

The interviewer speaking with you on the other end of the phone has no idea that you are actually being prompted from documents as you are speaking. All they can hear is a well-informed, well-prepared interviewee. Keep in mind that this preparation is not cheating. It is interview preparation, pure and simple.

So have your materials open and available when you are preparing for your phone interview. They are there to support you and enhance your value to the employer, who will greatly respect your ability to answer questions with focus and meaningful content.

The Stand and Deliver Phone Interview Technique

Here is a simple technique to increase the enthusiasm and positive image you project over the telephone: stand up. Whenever you are talking with a potential employer on the phone, stand up. It gets your blood flowing, improves your posture, and improves your response time.

It's interesting to note that many telemarketing companies have come to realize that standing can actually improve their sales, so they often provide the telemarketers with hands-free headsets that allow them to stand and pace back and forth. It helps give an action perspective to an otherwise passive activity. So apply this same technique to improve your own telephone presence.

The Vanity Phone Interview Technique

Have you been to the gym lately? If yes, you have likely seen others flexing muscles in the mirror. A little vain? Well, I am going to ask you to do the same thing (except leave out the flexing muscles part). In prep for a telephone interview (or any telephone contact), make sure you have a mirror within view. Why? So that you can glance into that mirror consistently throughout the phone call. And smile. You will improve your telephone presence 110 percent just by using this simple technique. You will find yourself coming across as much friendlier, more interested, more alert. If you are at all self-conscious about seeing yourself in the mirror, you can use the mirror as an occasional checkpoint. But for most people, seeing oneself reflected back gives the kind of feedback necessary to make instant modification toward a more positive presence.

Remember, you should be standing, so a wall mirror usually works best. You can pick up a small wall mirror for a limited amount of cash. It's worth it.

Try it the next time you are on the phone for any type of call and you will see the difference.

The Phone Personality Matching Technique

A variation on the previously discussed Personality Matching Technique is to apply the same basic principles within your phone interview. Although you obviously cannot match the interviewer's physical characteristics, try to match the interviewer's speaking rate and pitch. Remember to stay within your personality range, but venture toward that portion of your range that most closely matches that of your interviewer. This is an excellent way to establish rapport quickly with someone at a distance.