I don’t want to spend a lot of time pointing out the obvious. The pandemic has been hard, and many people have lost their jobs. According to AARP, the percentage of long-term unemployed job seekers increased to 26.4% for those ages 55 and older. If you’re looking for a new opportunity, not only are you dealing with the challenges of searching for a new job but searching for a new job in the middle of a pandemic.
What I mean by that last sentence is that many employers are changing their recruiting process to make candidates feel safe. And that’s a good thing. For example, in the past, a candidate might have been asked to stop by the office for a short screening interview with human resources. Now that short screening interview is being conducted over the phone.
And if you’re a candidate that has always felt one of your strengths is your ability to connect with individuals face-to-face, a phone interview could feel a bit weird. So today, I want to share with you six tips for having a successful phone interview.
- Schedule the interview. Employers are not out to trick anyone. So, if someone calls you wanting to do an immediate screening interview, make the suggestion to schedule a time. If you receive an email to schedule a time, don’t feel compelled to do it right away. Find a time that works for you so you’re at your best. Obviously, you can’t wait indefinitely, but if you’re a morning person, opt for a date where you can speak in the morning. And vice versa.
- Have your technology charged and ready. I know this sounds basic, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t do it prior to their phone interview. If you’re planning to take the call on your cell phone, make sure your phone is charged. If you’re using headphones or earbuds, make sure those are charged too. Be careful about using a speakerphone, because it can pick up ambient noises and you won’t sound clear. You want the interviewer to be focused on you and your qualifications, not how badly the call sounds.
- Get into the interview spirit. Since the interviewer will not see you, it’s important to have your voice convey your enthusiasm. If it would get you into the interview spirit, get dressed like you’re going to an interview. Find somewhere quiet to take the call where you can sit in a chair (like an interview). You will sound better if you’re sitting with excellent posture during the call. It does make a difference in your voice. Test it out with a friend sometime.
- Be prepared to answer the salary question. As a human resources professional, one thing I’m hearing from companies is that they do not want to waste your time (or theirs) if the salary isn’t a good fit. It’s possible that will be one of the first questions you’re asked. Be honest. And if you’re applying for a job that pays a lot less than you’re accustomed, be prepared to explain why. And, again, be honest!
- Plan to take notes. It’s possible that the interviewer will ask you to send a follow-up. Or the interviewer might tell you some things about the job or company that you want to remember. Have a pen and paper ready to jot down a few prompts. You can fill in the details after the call, but this could be very helpful later during the actual phone interview process. Especially if you discuss salary and benefits.
- Have a couple of questions. Just because you’re looking for a job doesn’t mean you can’t ask some questions. At minimum, you should find out what the next steps are in the interview process. Before the interview, check out the company website and see if there’s a recent press release that you can ask about. For example, “I was on your website and saw the company’s announcement about XYZ product. Will this job have any interaction with that project?” You get the idea.
The phone interview is becoming very popular right now and honestly, they’re not going away any time soon. First, because the pandemic is still with us. And second, because companies are finding them very effective. So candidates will need to work on their phone interview skills to stand out in the process.