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3 Tips for a Stronger Phone Interview

3 Tips for a Stronger Phone Interview

Phone interviews present different challenges than face-to-face interviews do, because without visual cues you can’t judge when the interviewer is finished speaking or get clues on how they are reacting to your responses. For these reasons, trying to building a relationship over the phone can feel awkward and difficult.

We spoke with Caroline Beaton, kununu‘s millennial career spokesperson, to get her tips for knocking it out of the park in a phone interview.

Treat It Like an In-Person Interview

Researching your potential job, employer and interviewer before an interview is important, regardless of whether you will be meeting face-to-face, by videoconference or on the phone. Phone interviews do allow you to keep your notes and the company website in front of you, but these tools are not a replacement for the having plenty of pre-interview knowledge about the company.

Beaton suggests citing “specific details that indicate you’re familiar with how the company operates.” For example, she says, you could name HR initiatives or more obscure aspects of the company’s history to try to build the relationship with the interviewer and show your enthusiasm.

Advance research will also prevent you from embarrassing yourself by asking questions that could easily be answered with a quick review of the company website, she says.

Speak Clearly and Concisely

The lack of face-to-face interaction in a phone conversation means the interviewer loses any chance to read your lips to make out words you may not enunciate well, and you lose the benefit of visual cues indicating that the interviewer is ready to move on to a new question. You can counter these concerns by speaking “more slowly and concisely than you think you need to,” Beaton says.

You want to make sure the interviewer can hear each of your words clearly, and you want to keep your answers succinct to keep yourself from rambling. Beaton notes that if the interviewer wants to find out more about something you stated, he or she will ask.

Don’t Read From Your Résumé

It’s easy on a phone interview to read straight from your notes or résumé, but that can make your answers come off as boring and rehearsed. “Many phone interviews sound like generic cover letters: applicants relay their background like reading off a nutrition label,” Beaton says.

She suggests answering questions with stories to relate your education and experience to the interviewer in a much more interesting and informative way than reading from your résumé allows. For example, Beaton says, tell stories of times you were self-motivated and of instances that will relate to the job you are interviewing for.

Make It a Real Conversation

Engaging in conversation with your interviewer can help to create a relationship. Most interviews are conducted strictly as questions and answers, which is necessary for the interviewer to find out more information about you in an efficient way, but to be more memorable you should also try to build some sort of relationship with them.

Beaton says to think of the interview as a conversation. It’s a time to talk, ask questions, laugh and be yourself. That will relax the situation — and you — and hopefully keep your answers from sounding too “methodical or stilted,” Beaton says.

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