Overcoming the Challenges of the Phone Interview, Part 2
In my previous article on dealing with phone interview challenges, I discussed tone of voice, good listening skills, monitoring your answers, and wrapping on a high note. One of the biggest limitations of phone interviews is the lack of body language you can provide and read. Without seeing what your interviewer is doing and how they are reacting to your answers, you can be at a disadvantage.
However, there is a way around this. You need to make a connection to the interviewer to make the interview a more comfortable experience for both of you.
How do I make a connection?
First, do your homework on the interviewer. You might find out you grew up in the same area, went to the same college, worked for the same employer (or customer), or even have a mutual friend. Once you know about this connection, you need to mention it casually in conversation. Perhaps weave it into one of your stories you are sharing about a work-related experience or how you learned a skill/talent.
How does this help?
Once you have a good rapport with the interviewer, you are more likely to get a candid answer to key questions that are helpful to ask in a phone interview. These questions include:
- Does the example I provided address your question adequately or would you like another example?
- What are the key experiences you are looking for in the ideal candidate?
- What type of personality works best in your work environment?
- What items on my resume would you like to know more about?
- Is there anything I said (or didn't say) that would lead you to believe I am NOT the perfect candidate?
You can see the trend in the questions. You are trying to probe into their current thoughts about you and provide any additional information that may put you over the top or at least lead to an on-site interview. Typically, phone interviews are an initial screening. Having a more personal connection to the interviewer may prompt them to be your internal advocate when the company is determining who gets an on-site interview.
Another major challenge in phone interviewing is the limited amount of time you may be given to interview. Some interviews are designed that way, as they are meant to be just a quick check of your resume and personality. Other times, it may be a fast barrage of questions off a checklist of theirs.
With this in mind, you must be concise in your answers. To do this, you must already know your best examples/experiences to share in the interview. It helps to have these written down in front of you so you don't get flustered and provide a less impressive example (or draw a blank completely). Having a list also allows you to know what you've already covered and what you still want to mention (even if not asked specifically about it).
Sometimes, a fast interview is a chance to see if you are "calm, cool, and collected" during a fast-paced, high-stress situation. Keep your conversational tone no matter what the pace, but cover your material quickly to show you are respecting their schedule.
Closing the deal
As mentioned in the previous article, you need to end on a high note and say you're looking forward to next steps. At the same time, you should emphasize that based on the type of questions they asked, you feel like the job is a good fit for you. By doing this, you are conveying that you are excited about the opportunity and find no reason you couldn't do the job well.