This phone screen can be the deciding factor on whether or not a candidate advances to an in-person interview, so savvy candidates should be mindful of telephone etiquette.
1. Treat A Phone Interview Like An In-Person Interview
You should come prepared with knowledge of both the company and the job. Be available at the scheduled time and ready to interview.
Preparation is key for in-person interviews and it’s just as important for telephone interviews.
Do your homework on the company and the position.
Try to be as knowledgeable as possible about what the company is looking for and why you’re the perfect choice for the job.
Manners matter, too, so speak clearly and be respectful of the interviewer.
Many of the regular etiquette rules we’ve learned over the years, like saying please and thank you, also apply to telephone etiquette.
Because you won’t have the luxury of seeing the interviewer, you’ll need to remember to listen especially well.
Allow for brief periods of silence as the interview collects his/her thoughts and avoid interrupting the interviewer.
2. Make Sure You Have Good Reception
If you must take the call from your cell phone, make sure you are in an area that has good reception and you are in a quiet environment. Background noises are very distracting to the interviewer and you want to make sure the interviewer knows you are taking the interview seriously.
If you must be in your car or in an environment that is noisy, address this with the interviewer at the beginning of your conversation. The interviewer may offer to call you back at a more convenient time.
Cell phones sometimes amplify sounds, so make sure you’re not chewing gum or eating while trying to answer questions. It’s acceptable to have a glass of water nearby in case your mouth goes dry, but try to drink quietly and not slurp your beverage in the ear of the interviewer.
You should also be cognizant of your movements. If you’re prone to fidgeting or nervous energy motions like tapping a pencil, keep in mind that these things may be heard by the interviewer and could be distracting.
Eliminate any distractions while on the phone. For example, turn off your computer, find a babysitter for your children, and so on. It’s unlikely you would take your children to an in-person interview, so telephone etiquette dictates the same protocols.
It may be helpful to have a printed copy of your resume and the job description in front of you so you can refer to these documents throughout the conversation.
Also have a pen and paper available to jot down any notes or follow-up instructions from the interviewer. Since you won’t be able to request a business card, you may want to ask for the interviewer’s contact information at the conclusion on your interview.