Tips on phone interviews
I work as a Human Resources Director for a large school district in the Denver metro area. Years ago, I re-located to Colorado for career opportunities and the quality of life. It appears that people still are drawn to Colorado and so I deal with a steady number of out-of-state applicants. Sometimes, the short time frame and the long distance challenge our ability to connect with the best and the brightest from out-of-state. On a limited basis, we've used phone interviews and more recently Skype interviews to interview candidates. I've viewed some effective tips on Skyping on You Tube. For this blog, I will concentrate on tips for phone interviews.
First of all, be as professional as possible even though your interviewer cannot actually see you. Make sure to follow all the protocols that would be followed if you were physically at the interview table. Remember the names of the individuals that you are talking to. A pad of paper may be helpful to jot down critical information.
Remove all distractions from you location such as turning off radios, television, computer and cell phone. Make sure that all ambient sounds are limited so that the person or committee interviewing you will be able to hear you clearly. Isolate yourself in room where you will not be interrupted by others. If you are calling from home, children and animals will have to be accounted for.
Make sure to have a backup plan in case the phone call gets interrupted or you lose your signal. Provide an additional number, such as a cell phone number to continue the interview. Remember the interview committee will be on a time schedule to follow on their end.
Listen carefully to each question and be aware of who is asking you those questions. You will not have the advantage of critical body language cues that you would have in a live face-to-face interview. Conversely, they will not have access to that either. Be as "interactive" as possible because of that fact. Remember to smile. Even though they will not see your smile, sometimes, your friendliness can be detected.
Most of the tips are common sense and similar to face-to-face interviews. Keep a watch or clock handy. Be aware of how many questions are going to be asked and pace your answers accordingly. At the end, ask when you can expect results from the interview.
When the interview is complete, make sure that your telephone connection is completely cut off. I recommend that you follow up with a thank you for the phone interview. It is often an "extra step" for your interviewer and showing your appreciation can't hurt.
Director of Human Resources
Aurora Public Schools