Looking for a new job involves a great deal of a few very specific tasks. Searching job boards and staffing services, submitting resumes, writing cover letters, answering curious emails and, eventually, taking part in a series of phone interviews. The vast majority of recruiters use the phone interview as a quick way to get a feel for a candidate and determine if they are likely to be what the employer is looking for. While a preliminary phone interview may not seem like the most important, it is your first and best way to get a foot in the door and become one of the finalists for a desirable position. While what is said during the phone call may vary, the best way to give yourself a cool and confident head start is to prepare yourself and your environment in the half hour before the call is scheduled.
1) Dress Up Anyway
If you want to feel professional, it helps to dress professionally even if no one will see you. When we choose an outfit and get dressed, we are also preparing our minds for the tasks that the outfit requires. When you dress for work, your mind starts to prepare for work. When you put on your pajamas, your mind starts to relax and wind down. Even if the call is at 10 AM on a Saturday, take a little time to put on something nice, brush your teeth, and fix your hair as you might for the interview itself. The good news is that you don’t actually have to look 100% spiffy, you just have to feel it.
2) Gather Your Materials
The interview is bound to cover a few industry and position related question to assess your basic familiarity and confidence with the subjects and the last thing you want is to draw a blank on something familiar because you’re nervous about the interview. This means that even if you have everything you could possibly say memorized, you may want a few pages of notes available to you just in case. Make sure to have a copy of the original job listing and your resume with your other notes so that you and the recruiter are looking at the same things.
3) Study the Interviewer
Who will be interviewing you and what company are they interviewing you for? Even if you’re not familiar with the recruiter by reputation, take a moment to make sure you know their name from the emails you’ve inevitably traded and some about what else they’re working on. You also want to study your potential employer who the recruiter will be speaking for including their company culture, what they’re known for, and make sure to have a reason why you want to work for this specific company ready. If you don’t know who will be interviewing you yet, study the company and read reviews of the employer’s interview style from others online.
4) Make a Cup of Tea
Some phone interviews last less than five minutes while others can stretch for as long as two hours depending on the content of the interview, how many people are on the other end, and how well the interview goes. Make yourself a cup of tea a few minutes before the phone is supposed to ring and ensure that your throat is hydrated and mucus-free. If the interview gets lively, you may need that tea half an hour in and if it wraps up quickly, you can unwind with a nice cup of tea.
5) Sit Down for the Call
Finally, when you’re five or fewer minutes from the scheduled call time, make sure to be sitting down and settled. You may want to find a place next to a computer so you can quickly look things up during the interview and, just in case, you’ll have something to do if the interviewer is late as sometimes happens. When the call does come through, remain seated. Do not stand up and pace as this can make it easier for your thoughts to become frantic and disorganized. Instead, do your best to relax and treat the interview a little bit more like a friendly conversation about what you do best.
Conducting an amazing phone interview is all about preparation and attitude. If you are ready with all the relevant information, relaxed, and confident about your skills, you are practically guaranteed to make to the second interview. Maybe this time in person.
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