In The Essential Phone Interview Handbook, Paul Bailo outlines the many various tools and skills necessary to ensure a positive phone interview experience, and a successful step toward ultimately securing a job.
Bailo begins by describing five key elements that he believes are the foundation of a strong, memorable phone interview:
1. Be yourself at your best. Bailo notes that there is a temptation for job seekers to bend their personality toward what they think an employer wants to hire. This technique can backfire, as employers do not want to hire a phony person in the end.
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Phone interviews are similar to open-book tests, and job seekers should take full advantage of this and prepare as much as possible.
3. Listen, think, speak. It is important to listen to what an interviewer says, and think before responding. A moment of silence will not derail an entire conversation if it allows for a better answer.
4. Be confident, professional, and assertive. Bailo recommends that job seekers exude confidence in a professional way at all times. Also, it is helpful to be assertive about any job aspirations without being too pushy.
5. Be bold, be brave, be done. At all times, job seekers should strive to answer questions concisely and with purpose. Bailo does not suggest dragging out an interview when there is nothing more to say. Being precise and creating a succinct representation will be more memorable than a long-winded conversation.
CONTROL YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Although it may seem like common sense, Bailo insists that creating a professional environment for any phone interview is critical to success. And since most phone interviews occur at home, job seekers can embrace the home field advantage. The author offers four “bests” to control a home surrounding:
1. Best Day. Phone interviews should be treated as big time commitments, no matter how long they actually turn out to be. It is important to schedule them on days when there are no other commitments looming on the horizon or encroaching on time limitations.
2. Best Time. It is never a good idea to schedule a phone interview too early, during meal times, or at the very end of the business day. It is best to pick a time that is most conducive to productive work.
3. Best Room. To create a professional and memorable interview, it is helpful to pick an area that allows for these emotions to flourish. Avoid rooms with heavy noise, or consistent distractions.
4. Best Phone. Bailo stresses that job seekers should avoid using a cell phone on phone interviews, as moments of wireless interruptions or loss of service can send an unprofessional message. It is best to use a landline whenever possible.
In addition, basic preparations such as having company research easily within reach, having a copy of personal resumes on hand, and turning off any and all technology that could cause disruptions (including TV, radio, and fax machines) can make the difference between a successful phone interview and an unprofessional phone conversation. Potential employers cannot see those in a phone interview, but they can hear very clearly. Bailo recommends eliminating any background noise before beginning a phone interview, and reacting quickly if any unexpected noises occur.