How to prepare for a telephonic interview

In a world where jobs are no longer restricted by political and geographical boundaries, several companies today are conducting telephonic interviews to shortlisted candidates before inviting them for a face-to-face interaction. It is an effective method to measure a person’s communication and listening skills and to know if the candidate is competent enough for a face to face round. The process can be automated or non-automated. 

Telephonic interviews generally last for about 30 minutes. Based on your social profile, resume, and phone interview, the recruiter determines your technical and cultural fit. This isn’t meant to be an in-depth grilling, but only to confirm what your resume says.

For the candidate has to her/his advantage- cheat sheets, cue cards and access to the Internet, but telephonic interviews are no child’s play, for you don’t have to be physically prepared for the interview but mentally alert to be able to answer all the questions thrown at you.

It is a stepping stone for learning more about the candidate and the candidate learning more about the employer and the position available before both commit their time and resources for an in-person interview. But at the same time, such interviews make it hard to indicate if there is any chemistry that would lead to a binding work relationship.

Practice and preparation are the two things that can help you reap success in a telephonic interview. You have to accomplish the goal of selling yourself to the other party, with nothing but literally “word of mouth”.

Even though it’s highly unlikely to completely predict a telephonic interview, you sure can score well with some tips and tricks, ready at hand for triumphant disposal. Here are some that I personally recommend:

BE ATTENTIVE

Does the idea of giving the interview crawled up in sheets and lying lazily on the bed tempt you? While it may seem fascinating, it is a big NO for even a telephonic interview.

The idea of a telephonic interview is to weed out candidates whose demeanor isn’t impressive enough to be considered further. Such interviews evaluate your personality type, communication skills and alertness more than the technical aspects. So make sure you are very attentive and composed while giving a telephonic interview.

They are generally taken very lightly by candidates; a conversation you can have while lying on your bed and hence, most fail to clear it.

RESEARCH

If the interview is scheduled in advance, know as much as you can about the employer and the opportunity before the interview, just as you would for an in-person interview. Make sure you are clear on the company profile and objectives. Once you know how the company works and what it specifically works for, it becomes much easier to streamline your story with that of the company.

Try searching LinkedIn for the same and scratch just enough surface of knowledge on the company’s profile to convince the interviewer of your suitability in the firm. This research will also help you to succeed in the face-to-face interview later, hopefully.

DON’T BE INHIBITIVE

Don’t doubt yourself or your abilities too much, especially while giving the interview. It will show.

Worry less, smile more. Sounds clichéd but it works, even for a telephonic interview. No employer wants a dull, pessimistic employee. Sure, they can’t see you smiling over the phone but one sounds more cheerful and optimistic. Your smile would be ‘heard’ by the interviewer.

Basically, ensure you have peace of mind and if not, then at least fabricate it for the phone call. A positive state of mind won’t just impress the employer, but will help you deliver better responses too.

AVOID OVERLAPPING

Try and refrain from interrupting the interviewer. Of course, it’s a phone call and you can’t actually see the person to understand body language and pauses that well, but do your part in not making the conversation chaotic.

Let the person finish his question before giving your answer instead of starting off with it as soon as you realise it’s an answer you already know. Be articulate with your words and make sure you’re not invading the interviewer’s speaking time. It will rub off the wrong way on him/her, for you will be deemed impatient and careless.

There will definitely be some overlapping, but that is purely incidental and so, unavoidable. But you should be as careful as you can.

TAKE NOTES

If you can, jot down notes during the interview, or write down what you can remember about the questions and your answers, while it’s still fresh. It will be a useful record to refer to when you go through to the next stage.

THANK YOU E-MAIL

Lastly, don’t forget to send a thank you e-mail. Thank the interviewer for taking out their time to conduct the telephonic interview. This makes you seem more serious about the concerned position as well as very professional.

But don’t just say thank you, reiterate your strengths, value and experience. Articulate it in a manner which reflects your gratitude but make sure it doesn’t go on too long for the other person to lose interest.

Remember, do not leave the phone interview to chance – start preparing beforehand for success. Telephonic interview is just the step that decides if you would be taken forward for the face-to-face round. It will make difference between you finally getting the job you’ve always wanted or another series of filling out applications.

Pay close attention and make sure you leave the right lasting impression on your prospective employer.

The author is Nikhil Chainani, CEO & founder, Perspectico – an ed-tech startup that helps students make informed career decisions

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