How to Nail Your (Surprise!) Phone Interview

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For jobseekers, a phone interview can sometimes be just as intimidating as an in-person one, perhaps even more so; when you’re speaking on the phone you have no way of making eye contact or of “reading the room,” nor to pick up on facial cues or other social signifiers. In short, you feel like you’re in the dark—and that can be stressful!

For many job applicants, though, a phone interview is going to be a necessary part of the process. Here’s what happens, and is happening more and more: A hiring manager gets your resume, reviews it, and finds it to be promising. So then he or she will give you a call to ask a few preliminary questions; this is meant to be a “screening” interview, clearing away any red-flag candidates before the real interviews start. These phone interviews will often come to you as a total surprise—which means you need to be ready.

Know When to Answer

Indeed, preparedness is key. The first rule of thumb is that, when you’re in the job market, you shouldn’t take phone calls unless they’re from people you know and unless you’re really ready for them. Taking a phone call from your spouse, your mom, or your best friend? Fine. A call from a number you don’t recognize? That’s dicier.

Your frame of mind and level of distraction matter here. If you’re at the park watching your kids play or just about to duck into a doctor’s appointment, don’t answer. If you can answer, make sure you stand up, walk around for a moment, and clear your head—then answer.

Remember: Any unknown caller could potentially be a hiring manager!

Get Ready for Voicemail

Are we saying that, if you’re too busy to do a phone interview, you just shouldn’t answer your phone? Well… yes. But make sure you’ve got a voicemail box that’s ready to take over for you.

First, change your voice message to ensure that it conveys professionalism—not anything jokey or goofy. Also make sure you’re on a plan that lets you accept multiple voicemails in your box, and that you’ve cleared out enough space to accept new messages!

Be Professional in the Interview

Of course, you’re going to need to connect with the interviewer at some point. Since these phone interviews come by surprise, you can sometimes feel like you’re being ambushed. Avoid this by preparing some quick notes: Get an index card or two and write down one-to-two sentence summaries of all your past jobs/resume entries, as well as a quick note or two about why you’re interested in the job.

The point of this is not to have a script or to be robotic in your answers, but just to jog your memory and reset your mind if you receive a call at a really unexpected time.

Also make sure that you take the time to introduce yourself professionally and to be thoughtful in your answers. The hiring manager may seem to be rushing you, but that doesn’t mean you have to dash your chances by offering hasty or ill-conceived responses.

These phone interviews are critical—but you won’t get one without a solid resume. Get yours today by reaching out to the Grammar Chic team at www.grammarchic.net, or at 803-831-7444.

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