Janet, an attorney and looking for a new job, had about 15 phone interviews since January. “…but I’m having a hard time getting to the next level, an in-person interview. I am very confident in my skills when interviewing in person, but I never seem to make it there. I do follow up e-mails, thank you letters, and ask good questions during my phone interviews. How do I ace a phone interview and turn it into an invitation for an in-person interview?”
Phone interviews are hard! You can’t see the interviewer to build a personal connection, you can’t read their non-verbal language, and sometimes it’s downright awkward. Yet phone interviews are on the rise to minimize the high cost of face-to-face interviews and to efficiently weed out a stack of applicants.
The good news: a phone interview is an open-book quiz! You get to cheat on phone interviews! You get to have notes in front of you with scripted answers to every one of the most commonly asked interview questions. And the key to a great phone interview is to know when to stop talking.
Here is Dana Manciagli’s Law of Threes for interviews: Say no more than three bullet-point answers to every question then stop talking. Again, 2-3 short answers and shut up. This will not only make you more at ease, you will appear confident to the listener. If they want more information, they will ask!
Three more ways to get to the face-to-face interview level:
Don’t underestimate anybody. Whether the person on the other end of the phone is a 22-year old screener, a recruiter, a human resources manager, or the hiring manager, you need to be positive, energetic, and focused. Find a quiet location, stand up so you project your voice, and listen to the questions very carefully.
Make yourself relevant to them. Be sure you have studied the job description and answer with skills and experiences that are important to solve their challenges. Interviews are not about you!
Go for the close. Many interviewees tell me, “They hung up before I could ask for the next step.” Even if the call is running late and they are saying goodbye, you need to read your scripted close that shows your passion and asks for the face-to-face interview. An example: “Ms. Jones, I’d like to express my passion for this position and ask for the opportunity to have a face-to-face interview.”
Write me with your job search challenges at any time!