Q: For the first time ever, and for a period of several months, I have been unemployed. In the past, I always performed well in face-to-face interviews, but I am less confident with phone interviews. What one skill would you recommend strengthening before receiving the call?
A: Telephone interviews have become a popular screening tool, and are now equally as important as an in-person interview. A candidate can either advance through to the next step of the interview process based on the phone conversation or be eliminated.
Here are some tips to help boost your confidence:
1. Confirm the telephone interview in advance, preferably using email to have a record of the date and time.
2. Ensure you have good phone reception. If you are using a cell phone, make sure that you test your reception in advance.
3. Print a copy of your resume and have it accessible during the call.
4. Be on time and prepared. Sometimes candidates take an informal approach to telephone interviews. Don’t make that mistake. Be as prepared and professional for a telephone interview as would for an in-person interview.
5. Rehearse possible responses to questions. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to conduct a mock telephone interview with you.
6. Eliminate distractions. Crate your dog, turn off the radio and, if in your car, pull over to a quiet spot so you are able to talk in a focused way.
7. Don’t forget to ask about next steps. For example, you might close with, “Jane, thanks for taking time to talk to me about the Research Scientist role at ABC Company. Can you tell me what the next steps are in your process? I am really interested in this position.”
8. After the call, follow up with a thank-you email.
9. Stay close to email. You want to be accessible if the employer is trying to reach you after the call.
Telephone interviews are a common first step in the interview process. Like with any skill, your performance will improve with practice.
- editing expertise provided by Ms. Sloan's 6th grade classes, Hopkinton Middle School
The author is solely responsible for the content.
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Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.