Interview Guidelines

Tips for Successful Telephone Interviews

Practice phone manners. Brush up on your phone manners. Answer by saying "Hello," not "Yeah," or by just barking your name into the receiver. Prepare beforehand for a quiet atmosphere with no background noise and distractions. Put the dog outside and don't clank dishes!

Involve the family. Teach everyone how to say simply, "Just a moment, please," and get you immediately. Teach everyone how to take a proper message, including the name of the person calling, company name, and a complete phone number. Leave a message pad and pencil next to the phone.

Speak clearly. Hone your speaking skills and be aware of your vocal patterns. Enunciate your words so you speak very clearly. Try not to use "throw-away" phrases like "frankly"..."to be honest"..."actually" ... "needless to say". Learn to speak as concisely and as clearly as possible. Not only will you be speaking more clearly and professionally but you will also find that your everyday speech will improve and be much more effective.

Smile & be confident over the phone. Believe it or not, smiling while you are talking will actually help you sound more "friendly" and open. During the telephone interview, you are judged by the same criteria used in an in-person interview, i.e. self-confidence. Self-confidence is judged differently by phone than in-person (where eye contact, for example, can be an excellent barometer). Instead, you'll be judged by a much more subtle set of factors -- the sound of your voice, your level of friendliness and enthusiasm, etc.

Don't be negative. Don't ever talk about issues related to potential compensation, company benefits, problems at your current employer, etc., during an initial phone interview. This is solid advice for any first-interview situation.

Be prepared. Telephone interviews can be requested on short notice so you might be taken by surprise and be expected to perform well. Keep a notebook with job related information in it near the telephone. This should include a current copy of your resume, a list of references, and information about the company you will interview with.

  • Have your strengths written down. Write down your top five strengths. If the interviewer only asks for three, that's okay -- but you are prepared if they ask for five.
  • Have your weakness written down. If asked, your weaknesses should be stated in a positive light such as, "I feel the areas that I would like to improve on are……"
  • Brag points. These are past achievements which single you out, such as: employee of the month, school honors, a work project you completed, ideas that saved your past employer time and money, etc. Write them down!
  • Ask questions about the company. After you have researched the company on-line, write down things that are important to you, i.e., the size of the company, growth potential, future opportunities, how long your potential boss has been with the company, where their next step is and why they like the company, etc. DO NOT DISCUSS SALARY. State to the interviewer that you are willing to entertain his best offer, as he knows what is a fair price for the responsibilities and the position.
  • Closing statement. This is very important. Have something written down so if the hiring authority says anything else in closing and catches you off guard you can answer with something similar to one of these suggestions:

    • I am interested in this opportunity and I know I can be a great asset to your company. What is the next step in the interviewing process?
    • I can be a great asset to your company. When can I come to your location and meet with you in person?
    • I am very interested in pursuing this opportunity. When can I visit your office?
    • I would like to have this job. What can I do to get it?

Keep your answers to the point. Many technical professionals launch into long, drawn-out answers to telephone interview questions. Because they do not have the sense of sight working for them, they are quite unable to tell if the person on the other line has gone to sleep so be sure to be brief.

Take notes. As you talk with the employer, take notes, as it will help with both the current telephone call and future in-person interviews.

Preparing for the Interview
During the Interview
Sample Interview Questions
Tips for Successful Telephone Interviews
Negative Factors


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