How to Nail a Telephone InterviewI’ve posted blogs with interview tips before, but this topic is always relevant. More and more interviews are being done over the phone, particularly in the Tech industry.
If you’re going to be sitting in on a video/skype/facetime interview – see other important tips here: http://engagemehit.blogspot.com/2011/10/tips-for-video-skype-interviewing.html
The Dreaded Telephone Interview 201Ø If you’re using your cell phone, make darn sure you’re in a place with great reception.
Ø Take the interview call in a place where you won’t be interrupted by people, dogs, noises etc.
Ø Try to build rapport early in the conversation. If you can, start the call out with a bit of friendly banter with the potential employer – even if it’s just a comment about their weather. Show interest in them, how their day is going etc. The employer wants to hire someone they like, someone that they’ll enjoy working with. It isn’t all about experience and qualifications.
Ø Always keep your answers to the point, you will likely have only 30 minutes to impress your potential employer: When answering questions about your experience, follow this rule of thumb:
1. Answer the question positively – “Yes, I do have experience with XYZ”
2. Explain where you have had the experience – “I worked on XYZ at my previous 2 employers, so I have almost 10 years of experience with it”
3. Explain your experience with enough detail to make sense but not so much detail that you’re running on and on and on – “I started building XYZ about 9 years ago, XYZ has changed some since then, with my last employer I was not only responsible for the build, but I trained new employees on how to build and I served as Lead Analyst throughout the implementation.” If the potential employer wants more specifics, they’ll ask.
Ø Don’t start talking until you’re sure they’ve finished talking. Many conference lines have a bit of a delay. I’ve sat in on more interviews than I care to count where the candidate and the potential employer spent most of their time talking over each other because both were jumping in before the other had finished talking. Its ok to have a brief pause before you start answering a question.
Ø Never, Never, Never, downplay your qualifications! Talk about what you do know and discuss your qualifications confidently. Don’t elaborate on what you don’t know! If a client asks you about a qualification that you don’t have, just say “I haven’t had any experience with that yet” or “I have a working knowledge of that from my experience at my last client but it wasn’t my focus” etc.
Ø Don’t try to oversell yourself. People that say things like “I’m the best in the business with XYZ” or “you won’t find someone more qualified” and similar statements typically get overlooked for job openings. It’s a rare candidate that can pull off that level of narcissism and get away with it. Confidence is good, an over-active ego is not.
Ø Don’t get defensive, ever – for any reason. I’ve had candidates flat out yell at me when I’ve told them I don’t think they’re right for the position. If you feel the person interviewing you is mistaken about your qualifications, politely explain where you feel they’ve missed the mark, never yell, never become rude. Typically, the person interviewing you knows what they’re talking about, but if they don’t, consider it an opportunity to educate them. Turning them off by yelling or being rude isn’t going to get you the position.
Ø Always have a copy of your resume in front of you so you can refer to it if necessary. If a recruiter submitted your resume, ask them for a copy of what they sent prior to the interview.
Ø Wrap Up: Typically the potential employer will ask if you have any questions. During the interview you should have been jotting down any points you want to cover. At this time try to ask a few questions, not just to show interest but to show you’re paying attention. Also, take this time to bring up any points about your qualifications you feel you might have missed earlier in the interview.
Ø Thank them – before hanging up cheerfully thank them for their time and express your continued interest in the position (if you are still interested) and ask when you might expect to hear back.
After your interview has concluded, take a few minutes to review any notes you’ve taken and go over the call in your mind, then write a thank you note via email to express your continued interest, reiterate how your experience lends itself to their needs and your excitement in hearing back from them. No matter how good you are, you can’t win the job 100% of the time, but by following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to nailing telephone interviews!