The interview process – most of us have walked down this road before. And although the interview itself brings about emotions of sheer terror, it is often the prescreening interview that can make or break whether we get that next job. Prescreening interviews are generally held over the phone, and though they can vary just as much as a face-to-face interview can, there are a few guidelines to follow that just might get you to the next step in the process of advancing your career.
First and foremost, remember that your words represent you over the phone — still, know that your nonverbal cues can be “heard” over the phone. If you are frowning, believe it or not, your voice will reflect that. So be sure that you are just as professional in the screening interview as you would be if you were face-to-face with the interviewer.
An article from CareerBulider (“The Surefire Way to Ace Your Job Interview”) points out that perhaps the most important aspect of any job interview is to communicate what you can personally bring to the position. Know job description, and understand (and let the interviewer know) how your experience, background and other personal attributes make you a great fit.
Though it seems like common sense, be sure not to interrupt the interviewer while he or she is speaking. Pausing while on the phone can be perceived differently than a pause in person. Really listen to the questions and flow of the conversation before speaking. The last thing you want to do is ruin a great interview with unintended rudeness.
Remember that all the general guidelines of a face-to-face interview apply to phone interviews as well: Be polite, be on time, know the company and “dress for success” — meaning, speak professionally. But don’t try to over do it by using words that are so far out of your normal mode of speaking that their precise definitions elude you. (Avoiding slang and expletives should go without saying.)
Don’t let your nerves rule the interview. In order to combat nervousness, try practicing beforehand. Get a friend and go over some common questions you think may be asked. Though you can research common questions specific to your position (as questions for a receptionist position will certainly vary from those asked of a CEO), there are a few that are asked routinely. USA Today presents some of the most asked interview questions in their article “Common Interview Questions”, including:
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
What is your experience?
Why did you apply for this position?
Why should we hire you?
Lastly, some interview don’ts:
- Don’t take the call in a noisy environment. Block out this time just as you would if you were going to an in-person interview.
- Avoid placing the interviewer on hold for any reason.
- Don’t be disengaged or disinterested.
- Avoid sounding arrogant.
- Don’t speak badly about a previous employer.
Prepare, practice and refine your interview. Be your best self. If you’re prepared, you’ll be more confident and put your best foot forward.
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Good luck in your search,