Telephone screening interviews are becoming more commonplace as companies seek to cut hiring costs and streamline the selection process.
Phone interviewing is unique. You can't count on visual stimuli such as good looks or power suits, eye contact or body language, to aid your presentation. Neither can you rely on visual signals to interpret the interviewer's response. In this context, faceless conversation takes on an added dimension of importance. Both strengths and weaknesses, as conveyed by voice, are magnified through the phone. Your voice personifies everything about you.
Before the Telephonic Interview :
If you're currently employed, arrange for a phone interview in the evening rather than during the workday. Confidentiality and discretion may be at risk if you interview during working hours; you never know who might barge into your office unannounced or overhear something by accident. In the privacy of your home, you can be more at ease and in control of your surroundings. You should always make sure you will not be interrupted.
Before the actual interview, it will help to know the topics to be covered, objectives to attain and the basic information regarding the position to be discussed.
It's also advisable to prepare for possible scenarios that might unfold. Hypothesize a bit; suppose the interviewer asks questions that make you feel uncomfortable. Answer these and any questions as briefly and directly as possible without being negative. Offer a positive "mini story" about yourself and your accomplishments.
The worst case scenario would be that the interviewer would not call at the agreed time. In this case do not call the interviewer, call your recruiter so that he/she can investigate the situation and get back to you with another interview date and time.
Some questions the employer might ask:
- Why do you want to leave your present company?
Answer as truthfully as possible without being negative about your current company.
If it's for a better opportunity, state this and why.
- What can you bring to us that we don't have now?
Answer affirmatively, such as you know you can increase sales or production.
- If we hired you, where do you see yourself in five years?
Again, answer positively. Be straightforward, not clever. I hope my performance will reflect at least one step up by that time.
Keep the following tools handy to aid you in gathering information and facts:
- How many positions have you held?
State the number that is on your resume or data sheet.
- What do you know about our company?
Do your research and mention at least two or three positive things that you've learned.
- Why do you think you would fit into our company?
Based on what I have learned about your company so far, it sounds like it would be a very comfortable and profitable transition.
- A copy of the version of the resume sent to the interviewer.
- A note pad and pen.
- Five or six carefully worded questions you'll want to ask.
- Company literature with pertinent information highlighted.
- A calendar.
- A watch or clock.
Phone Personality:The telephone screening interview is a make-or-break proposition, your one chance to convince the interviewer that you are worth serious consideration.Voice reflects personality. A well-modulated, controlled voice communicates authority and heightens the verbal impact you want to make. The quality, pitch and tempo of your speech convey a certain attitude, energy level and enthusiasm. Enthusiasm and excitement are the biggest selling points a candidate can use when talking on the phone.Talk directly into the mouthpiece. Hold the receiver approximately three inches from the mouth, not below your chin or above your nose. Speak in a relaxed, conversational style, as you would talk to someone in person.Avoid grasping the phone in a vise-like grip. This will add a note of stress, and your voice will communicate that uneasiness.Getting up and moving around introduces an element of action, which instills a relaxed, conversational manner and reduces fatigue.Pay attention to the interviewer’s voice patterns. Does he/she speak slowly or rapidly? Try to match the cadence so that the conversation flows smoothly. The average person speaks at a rate of 160 words per minute. Adjust your speaking rate, voice volume and phrasing to be more in rhythm with the interviewer.Be a conversationalist. Listen carefully to get the big picture and to avoid saying something that indicates any momentary mental distraction. Allow the interviewer to complete questions. Do not finish his/her sentences or blurt out answers prematurely.Handle any trick questions in stride. The interviewer may throw in several to test your alertness or mental keenness. Showing verbal adeptness is a sign of how quickly you can "think on your feet." Be cautious: the interviewer may say something that puzzles you or that you firmly disagree with. Show enough respect to voice your thoughts in a professional manner. A defensive posture or argumentative tone is the surest way to alienate the interviewer and eliminate your candidacy.
A Final Concern:The interviewer may ask you what salary range you're expecting, but don't introduce this subject yourself. It's best to mention that at this point you are not altogether certain what the job is really worth. Example: "I would feel more comfortable discussing a salary figure after meeting the key people I would be working with and knowing more about the position." If the interviewer continues to pressure you for a figure, specifically ask, "What salary range are you working within?" Chances are 50/50 that he/she will tell you.Respond by indicating that your desired salary is in that range (if that is correct). If the dollars are a little low, don't despair or defend what you feel you are worth. Tell the interviewer you’d like to discuss this with your MRI recruiter before committing yourself.As the conversation winds down, become less talkative and give more thought to what you say. Your final words will generally have greater impact and be remembered longer. Careful word choice and voice inflections will under-score the significance of your remarks.