While the idea of having an interview in your pajamas might sounds like a good idea, it’s probably best to take even phone interviews seriously when searching for a job. For while some people think that phone interviews are a piece of cake, that’s often not the case. Why? Well, while an interviewer might not be able to see your Spider-Man pajamas and three-day old beard, you also can’t see her. She might be fiddling with her iPhone, checking email or looking at a lunch menu. Both of you are missing out on important visual clues and that can be the difference between getting a call back or being left alone to really let that beard grow out. So what’s the best way to tackle a phone interview? Since they can’t be avoided altogether, consider these suggestions.
Silence is Golden. Because an interviewer can’t see you, his or her sense of hearing usually becomes more acute. The interviewer can usually hear anything that you can hear in the background – the TV, radio, kids fighting, the next door neighbor’s lawnmower, etc. – so that must be top of mind. Try to schedule the phone interview for a time when you can be someplace that’s extremely quiet. Have someone look after the kids for an hour and keep the windows closed if you think Mr. Johnson wants to trim his grass again. Also, make it a place that’s not near a computer, TV or anything else that will distract you during the interview. While you are at it, tell anybody who could disturb you during the interview what you are doing and that you shouldn’t be disturbed unless an ambulance or the police are needed. Make sure you have pen and paper ready in order to take notes. Something could come up during the interview that you need to research or a questions that you might want to ask during an in-person interview. You should also have a copy of your resume so that when the interviewer refers to your experience, you won’t be caught like a deer in headlights trying to remember what you said you did at a previous job.
Talk it up. As soon as the phone rings, it’s show time. Answer the phone with a voice that’s upbeat and enthusiastic. But also sound professional. Saying something like “Anna’s Pizza Parlor” instead of “Hello, this is Anna speaking” will just confuse the caller. This might sound a little weird, but you should also make an effort to smile. A smile can be “heard” over the phone and it will put you in an appropriate state of mind. After all, you would smile if the interview was face-to-face, right? This might sound rather logical, too, but remember to breathe. Interviews – even those on the phone – can be stressful and that can affect your breathing.
Two-way street. Don’t forget; you also have to listen during an interview. It’s not just an opportunity to sell yourself. It’s also a chance to showcase your listening skills. One technique involves closing your eyes when the interviewer is talking. This should help you focus on what is being said. This should help you gauge the interviewer’s mood. Is he bored and distracted or interested and enthusiastic? Is everything flowing smoothly or does it seem just to be a tense question and answer session? It’s very important to listen carefully after you’ve answered a question. Even over the phone it’s often possible to discern approval.
Practice, practice, practice. This will sound a little dorky, but if you haven’t had a phone interview before or you are nervous at the prospect of doing such an interview then you must practice. Get a friend who has hiring experience to act as the interviewer. Provide them with some questions to ask and give them a copy of your resume so they can come up with their own questions, too. This is a great time to test your listening skills and to practice smiling while you are talking. After the interview, make sure you get feedback from your friend to see what they thought you did well and what you could improve. Taping the conversation, if possible, is also a great idea. Going back and listening to yourself is a great way to notice areas for improvement. Oh, and about those pajamas. Even if they are most comfortable thing you own, don’t wear them during the phone interview. True, the interviewer won’t be able to see you, but you’d be surprised how different you will sound if you just wear something a more businesslike. No need for a suit, of course.
Ready to nab that interview? Head on over to our job board, search for the jobs you’re interested in, and apply!