More frequently firms are using initial telephone interviews as a speedier and more efficient way to first interview, or screen candidates.
There are lots of plus and minus points for this. On the plus side, the interview is more convenient for all concerned, is likely to be quicker, and is an inexpensive way for the business to ‘meet’ a potential candidate.
On the flipside, as you’re not meeting any potential employer face-to-face, it’s much harder to figure out how the interview is going. Because the interview doesn’t have the formality of being interviewed in the firm’s office, with a more informal situation, are you as prepared as you should be? Are you giving the interview the gravitas it deserves? Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a laid-back, informal situation. An interview is an interview. You’ll need to be just as prepared as you would be if you had to travel into their offices. Perhaps more, in fact, as you won’t have the opportunity to gauge their responses based on facial expression and body language. In a way, this is a harder situation than a face-to-face interview. So how do you ensure you have a successful telephone interview and secure the next?
You’ll need to be organised and plan ahead. Secure the basics. Think about the logistics.
Firstly, where are you planning to be when you take the phone call? If you’re at home, make sure you’ve not been online shopping on Amazon the night before and couriers ring your bell in the middle of your interview. Or god forbid, the dog barks all the way through your interview, or you’ve forgotten it’s the same day your cleaner comes and they’ll be banging and crashing about the place. Be sensible and think ahead.
Secondly, when will it be? If your potential employer has set a time to call you that doesn’t work for you, don’t panic, just suggest a time that works better for you. Ensure you’ve got somewhere quiet, where you’ll be undisturbed, where you can concentrate 100% on the interview.
Thirdly, be prepared. Keep your CV and notes next to you so you’ll easily be able to refer to them throughout the interview. You should have done some research on the firm, so have this to hand as well, along with questions that you’d like to ask about the company. Remember, time will be of the essence, hence a telephone interview, but keep in mind that you don’t want to rush or get flustered. Especially if your interviewer is working through a list of questions. You should expect some silences too, so the interviewer can make their own notes, so be patient and don’t be afraid that silence = bad.
So how can you improve how you come across during the interview? Telemarketers don’t have the advantage of seeing the people they call. And although the industry has a poor reputation and the phrase ‘telemarketing’ is seen almost as a dirty word, we shouldn’t dismiss that a good Telemarketer will use sales techniques that lend themselves brilliantly to this situation. The firm will be looking for someone who is confident, articulate and personable, so once you’ve sorted out the logistics above, believe it or not, there are some really effective telemarketing tips you can employ to help you come across well.
Stand up when you’re on the phone. It puts less pressure on your diaphragm than sitting down which means your voice will be clearer and you’ll be able to breathe better. You will also feel more confident, especially if you are standing nice and upright, not slumped over a desk or a table and it will enable you to gesticulate more as well – allowing you to convey passion and enthusiasm in what you’re talking about – essential in a situation where you cannot be seen.
Smile! If you smile when you talk it’s very difficult to sound miserable. Smiling makes your voice naturally lift and invigorates you, sending messages to your brain that you are happy which should help you feel more in control and at ease and quite simply, you’ll be nicer to listen to.
Use a headset. If you have a headset, this is a brilliant way free you up and be able to gesticulate when you want to, giving more expression to your questions and answers. You’ll also have your hands free so if you need to make notes at any point during your interview, then you can. In turn, your voice will sound better and, should your interview turn out to be longer than anticipated, this will be a massive relief to your poor, scrunched up shoulder and excruciatingly hot ear.
Wear a suit. It’s the old adage, ‘dress to impress’. It might seem strange, but actually when you dress for work, you’re far more likely to feel professional. Sitting on the phone in your shorts, an old t-shirt and flip-flops might be more comfortable, but it won’t put you in the right frame of mind.
Listen. Good Telemarketers, mediators and councillors use a technique called ‘active listening’, which is essentially ‘actively listening’; really concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively ‘hearing’ the message of the speaker. It means being attentive to what someone else is saying, with the goal of understanding the feelings and views of the person. In a face-to-face situation, you’d be able to employ non-verbal messages to communicate, such as a nod of the head, a smile, or even mirroring someone’s body language. But, in a telephone interview, you’re confined to using just verbal messages, so being able to take your time, properly listen and summarise, means you really understand and you’re really interested in what’s being said.
And finally, follow-up. You might not be able to shake hands with your interviewer, but thank them for the interview and let them know you’re interested. Use every opportunity to make a good impression, including the last seconds of your interview. Remember, everyone likes good manners.