Telephone Interviews

Think you're ready for telephone interviews?

You've been running around all week, filling out applications, submitting your resume, talking to receptionists…it's time to go home. Now you begin to wonder, "What if I get interviewed on the phone?" This article will help answer that question and help you be better prepared when the phone rings. Telephone interviews provide a medium in which you will be heard more easily, so first impressions count!

First things first: Did you make a list of all the places to which you have applied? Keep the list handy and readable by the telephone, along with a description of what you were applying for. You should also have a copy of your resume with the list so you can verify your information. Nothing can be worse than showing uncertainty to a prospective employer over the telephone. You need to have your facts straight and your story clear.

When the phone rings, and you're not there, how does your answering service sound? Do you have a silly greeting, or is it more generic? This can be important for first impression. Is it possible that someone else, such as a roommate or family member, may pick up the phone? Have you clued them in to the possibility of a prospective employer calling? Have you prepared them to take a message? Are they reliable? This all may sound a tad over-the-top, but this really can be critical.

Then, of course, we have the actual moment the telephone rings, you answer, and it's the job you've really been dreaming about. It is not Human Resources to arrange an interview – it's the Supervisor herself wanting to interview you over the phone! Now what?

Don't get anxious. You are prepared for this because you read this article. Take a deep breath and cordially introduce yourself. Let the interviewer speak first; they will want to go over the reason they called, the position they called about, and if you re still interested. Most likely they will politely ask if "it's a good time" for them to call, or should they call back? Your chances of a successful interview are much higher if you go on with the interview.

Telephone interviews: The ground rules...

  • Don't speak excitedly or hesitantly. Speak calmly and confidently; don't waste words.
  • Try not to get personal or speak of any problems you may have.
  • Show knowledge of your work history
  • Keep the conversation professional.
  • Answer all questions without stumbling; be honest.
  • ABOVE ALL – Be respectful, but don't sweet-talk!
All of the above, used in practice, will benefit your telephone interview. You want to be the person the company needs. You want to show the caller you are the person they need!

Calling Prospective Employers

You have submitted your resume; you've filled out job applications…no one has called yet. It's time for action. How do you go about contacting the people you need over the telephone?

First, you need the list of all the companies to which you have applied and their phone numbers. Try to get extensions and names of departments, supervisors, or managers during the application process. If that isn't possible, just using the company's main number and going through the automated directory may prove useful, but then again, it may only lead to voice mail.

Voice mail can be a very useful way of getting through to someone who may have hiring power. An operator may direct you to a voice mail much more readily than try to put you through to the person. There are security issues in some companies, so you may not be able to get to anybody but Human Resources. Call them and question them about your application status. This can show an enthusiastic interest; sometimes companies respond well to it. So now you have someone on the telephone, and they're willing to interview with you. Just follow the guidelines in this telephone interview article and you will do fine.

Remember, telephone interviews give you a chance to be heard more easily, and first impressions count!

If you are finished reading "Telephone Interviews" you may want to read "Interview Mistakes"

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