How to Master the Phone Interview
Part of my job entails hopping on the phone and convincing companies and conferences to book me as a speaker. It’s like a job interview every time, and it always reminds me of my very first phone interviews for internships back in college. I was so nervous my knees would be shaking and I’d feel nauseous with anxiety. Even though I’ve become more comfortable over the years, there are still a few key best practices I rely on to make the best possible impression.
Rise and Shine
First, I always try to stand up. When you’re standing, you entire demeanor changes and often, your vocal tone does, too. As I’m listening to the dial tone ring, nervously awaiting their pick-up on the other end of the phone, I force myself to smile, knowing that it’ll make me sound more pleasant and cheerful, too.
But instead of nerves being my biggest enemy nowadays, it’s distractions. Since I take these calls throughout the course of an average workday, I’m usually within site of my laptop, which is ripe with distractions – even if it’s just my inbox. One minute, I’ll be engrossed in a conversation with a potential client, and the next I’ll see an urgent customer’s request appear at the top of my inbox – ah! Or one of my team members will pop into slack to chat with me – yikes!
No Screens, No Stress
It’s impossible to not be distracted within sight of your screens. So for any job-seeker who’s taking a phone interview, just because you’re face isn’t on camera, doesn’t mean you should let your eyes wander. Sequester yourself in a room without screens whenever possible to make it easy to avoid any alerts and notifications popping up while you’re mid-sentence.
The one thing I recommend you DO keep within sight is the name(s) of the folks you’re speaking to. This is especially true when you’ve got multiple interviewers on the other end of the line. Whenever you can, write their names on a sticky note before you’re even on the call and keep that sticky posted within sight. Use their name a few times throughout the call to show you’re really listening. As Dale Carnegie once said:
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
The key here is to make sure you’re never giving the impression that there are more important things you’d rather be doing than talking to them right this moment.
Handle Stress Seamlessly
And if, god forbid, something crazy does come up, like a fire alarm or your dog starts barking his head off at the mail carrier, put yourself on mute and if absolutely necessary, ask politely for a moment to yourself. You might say something like: “I am so sorry to ask, but may I place you on a very brief hold?” Upon return, explain but don’t dwell on whatever went down. Dive right back into the conversation with something like, “My apologies, so where were we?”
Keep these principles of strong phone etiquette in mind for your next interview or pitch call, and you’re sure to give a polished, professional impression.
Do you have any phone interview best practices to share? Or some horror story about a phone interview faux-pas? I’d love to hear about it on social media at @emiliearies and @bosseduporg, or in the comments section below. I can’t wait to hear what you think.