The Phone Interview – Ping Pong or Bowling?

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There’s going to be a hell of a lot MORE phone (rather than face to face) interviews for the forseeable future with the ever present COVID-19 hanging over us. And here are a few tips for you, dear jobseekers.

Rescheduling is one of your fundamental human rights. Speak to a recruiter who calls you out of the blue, ONLY when you can ACTUALLY speak. Means, there are no whining kids, running water, barking pets and planes taking off on a background. If you can’t for the life of you hear who that is and why they are calling – reschedule.

Please, stand up, please stand up! We sound our best when we stand as nothing restricts our airways. Also, you might want to do a few stretches to make your diaphragm nice and loose. As your voice (and what you say) is your only tool (right, you can’t charmingly wink on the phone), you need to be at your best.

Don’t dress for regress. Dress for progress, success, impress and possibly have more watercress. Be comfortable but not too laid back. In other words, get out of your PJ, shower, shave, brush up and wear something nice and neat. The better you feel about yourself – the better you gonna sound.

Eliminate distractions. You’d be surprised, you can actually HEAR distraction in a person’s voice. I am sure you heard it many times yourself when speaking to a recruiter who sounded like they were doodling. So, smile, they will hear THAT too.

Don’t be mic-greedy. Phone conversation is a ping-pong game. Don’t tell the interviewer your life story, especially if you are not going to speak in 8 different voices of your fav cartoon characters. But seriously, 2-minute speech (max) is long enough to answer any question your interviewer asks.

Wait a minute!  W. Somerset Maugham once said: Never pause unless you have a reason for it, but when you pause, pause as long as you can. (Theatre). When a pause occurs – don’t panic. They might be vigorously typing while being on mute or just being impressed speechless. Don’t jump into details or examples immediately, throw the ball on their court asking – would you like any details? Would you like me to expand on it? Give an example?

Three points to Gryffindor! The more structured is your speech, the better chances that what you say will be remembered, which means your application will be getting better presentation to the hiring manager.So, if you want to enlist a few things (your strengths for example) it might be a good idea to

  • Let people know how many points you gonna make;
  • Use ‘first point, ‘another skill’, ‘and ‘the last but not the least’; and
  • Make pauses between points.

People would remember 3 points pretty well, and you can cheat and bring in #4 as ‘and the final one‘, ‘oh I almost forgot…‘, they won’t be excited about 7 or 15 points list of strengths, so you have to regroup your summary of skills accordingly.

And a few more:

  • Afraid of the phone conversations (accent, comprehension)? – Call professional customer services (bank, insurance, councils) to get used to the way local professionals speak.
  • Bad reception? – Try landline or be ready to jump on zoom, hangouts, skype – have them at ready on your phone.
  • Do your homework. – Who you are going to talk to, what does the company do, what’s the role about, prepare great questions (that can possibly can get you back to highlighting your strengths, why not).
  • Have a glass of water handy, have your phone charged. Printed CV, job description, questions and notes.
  • Don’t speak fast – They want to understand you, not to measure how many syllables you can say per minute.
  • Set your voicemail! – And actually, listen to messages after. Please, don’t do this 10-second voice-to-text nonsense.
  • Ask about the process. – What’s next? When? How many people involved?
  • Send a ‘thank you’ note!

Don’t get discouraged if you feel that your phone interview didn’t go as well as it could. It’s very difficult to impress a stranger within 15-30 minutes. Just do more practice and if you need guidance – flick me a message!