Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Surviving the Phone Screen

I just had the pleasure of participating in a phone screen interview. If you happen to work with me, don't worry I'm not going anywhere. My employer has a program whereby they send 900 students around the globe between semesters for immersion experiences in emerging markets and I applied to be a Program Manager.

I don't know about you but I find phone screen interviews to be really hard. It is so much easier to have a conversation with someone who is sitting right in front of you. The idea of having to make a meaningful impression on and connection with someone you can't see is much more intimidating than being able to engage someone sitting in front of you so you can read their reactions to what you are saying.

If you are faced with the prospect of a phone interview there are some basics you can do to make for an optimal setting and experience:

  • Prepare like this is any other interview because it is. Run through your talking points. Go through you practice questions. Write down a few questions you want to ask the interviewer. Always be prepared. If you are not prepared none of what follows will matter.
  • Have your resume handy so you can refer to it.
  • Make a list of talking points and refer to them during the interview. Being able to have materials in front of you is one advantage of the phone interview so use it.
  • Have a pen and paper handy so you can take notes.
  • Remove any and all distractions from the room including but not limited to: disable call waiting, silence phones not being used in the interview, shut down music/TV, email, internet, kids, pets, co-workers, spouses, in-laws, bookies, handymen, plumbers, massage therapists...you get the idea.
  • Use a land line. 
  • Have a glass of water handy and don't eat, suck on candy, or chew gum.
  • Repeatedly tell yourself how AWESOME you are going to do.
  • Keep your answers brief and concise. 
  • Take your time, speak clearly and with confidence.
  • Breathe.
  • Smile!
  • Don't interrupt the interviewer.
  • Remember to ask about their timeline for their next steps and what those steps will be.
  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time.

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