Some key insights to help you prepare & ace your phone interview.

When it comes to job-hunting, phone interviews are tests. Everyone has them. They are sometimes the standard first step in the hiring process. If you pass, you’ll be offered a deeper, face-to-face job interview. If not, that’s the end of your candidacy.

But phone interviews can be nerve-wracking. Only 30 per cent of the meaning we get from people comes from verbal communication. The rest comes from non-verbal cues. So, it’s tough when you have solely the voice to work with.

But, surprisingly, job-seekers tend to undervalue the significance of phone interviews, considering it not as important as face-to-face interviews.

Since phone interviews can happen at any time during your job search, here I share my top tips to help you during your phone interview and make sure you do great and move on to next phase:

Develop a rapport

Selling yourself is not easy. Building rapport is one of the most fundamental sales techniques. In a sales capacity, rapport is used to build relationships with others quickly and to gain their trust and confidence - this means establishing a bond – or some sort of common ground – with your interviewer.

It helps if you do some research on them. Know their alma mater, their specialties or even hobbies – if you have anything in common with them, that would make a good icebreaker.

This means doing your research on whoever will be interviewing you and looking them up on LinkedIn to see where their background lies.

Keep your answers simple.

Be clear, concise and structured with your communication. After all, hiring managers typically have dozens of phone interviews to get through.

Set the stage of what you plan on telling the interviewer.

Part of being simple and compelling is being organized. As you share your accomplishments and skill sets with the interviewer, it’s a good idea to use what’s called signposts – words like firstly, secondly and thirdly – to signal where you are to the interviewer.

Highlight unique accomplishments and results that are relevant to role and industry.

You should aim to highlight specific achievements in your past experiences. It could be anything being the first in the industry to launch a specific initiative, being among one of the top sales reps (if you’re in sales) or achieving a record-breaking promotion X years.

Remember, you want to stand out from the dozen or so phone interviewees as much as possible.

Use buzzwords, industry jargon in your answers.

Know the buzzwords for the job and the field, advises Mary Greenwood, human resources manager for the City of Winter Park in Florida. According to Greenwood, if you don't understand a question because you don't know what one of the buzzwords is, that could hurt your chances for the job.

Speak slowly.

As you know, phone interviews are clearly not the same as face-to-face ones. It’s much clearer to listen to someone when you’re standing in front of them in flesh and blood.

That’s why it’s important to “speak slowly and allow for pauses,” according to Kathleen Brady, career coach with Career Planners LLC, based in New York, and former director of recruitment of Jackson Lewis LLP.

Be enthusiastic!

It’s always important to be enthusiastic in any interview. But it’s even more important in a phone interview. “The interviewer will not have the benefit of non-verbal communication (and) nor will you,” says Paula Soileau, former CFO of the American Heart Association and co-founder of Affintus, a recruiting and predictive job matching service.

But Soileau recommends not to overdo it. Strike a balance between sounding passionate and blatantly sucking up.

Part of your checklist should be reading through the company’s annual report to see how they present themselves in the market using specific keywords.

Keep in mind to make a list of questions based on your homework on the organization. It speaks to your curiosity and interest in the position. And remember not to undervalue the importance of phone interview.

You want to do your best to sound enthusiastic, professional and right for the company. That way, you’ll pass the test and the hiring manager will want to pursue you further.

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