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smilingphoneMany organizations and graduate programs use SkypeInternet technology to interview applicants, sometimes as a pre-screen to select finalists for office headquarters or campus visits. The old-fashioned telephone, however, is still used for this purpose as well, for internships, jobs, and grad programs. Are there any special considerations for phone interviews?

I recently came across an excellent YouTube video produced by Snell Comunications, and I invited you to view it here: ACING THE TELEPHONE INTERVIEW.

phonecuteguy As the video points out, the key advantage of telephone interviews is that the interviewer cannot see you. Therefore, you can prepare your key communication points in advance on paper (i.e., your “elevator speech” or bullet-point answers to predictable questions) to prompt you, which you could not do in an in-person interview. Just make sure you don’t sound like you are reading or sifting through papers!

The key disadvantage of telephone interviews is, however, that the interviewer cannot see you! In a phone interview, you can only rely on verbal messages, without any of the nonverbal communication that is so powerful in making meaningful human connections (i.e., clothing, eye contact, facial expressions, handshakes). So, how does one compensate for the lack of these “weapons” in one’s arsenal?

phoneyoungwomanDressing the part makes you feel the part. If you are talking on the phone in your bathrobe, curled up on your bed wearing fluffy slippers, you may unconsciously communicate too much of a casual attitude. If you are wearing business attire, you will feel more like you are having a professional conversation, and that will come across in the tonality of your communication.

Find your most comfortable standing or sitting position. Standing up helps you project your voice, breathe more deeply (thus, overcoming nervousness), and sound authoritative. Some people actually think more quickly when they walk around, so if that is you, do it–just don’t stray too far away from your notes. Do what you feel the most comfortable doing. If sitting up in a chair (with good posture for breathing), looking at your notes, feels right to you, by all means do that.

lookinmirrorConsider looking in a mirror. Simply looking at your own animated face will make it more “real” to you that you are having a personal conversation, not just interacting with a disembodied spirit. It will remind you to be expressive and to SMILE. Whatever your face is doing is what the person on the other end will “hear.” Your enthusiastic energy will come across and the interviewer will be more likely to want to meet you in person; hence, you will probably be passed on to the next stage of the recruiting process!

Listen. It is probably easier to practice good interview etiquette when you can see the other person. Some people fall into the bad habit of “blabbing on” ad nauseum on the phone, interrupting, or not carefully listening to the interviewer’s questions or comments. Make sure you practice the “tennis volley” conversational style!

phoneasiangirlCell phone vs. land line. Some advisors, such as the Graduate Coach group in their excellent YouTube video, “Successful Telephone Interviews,” advocate using land line phones for interviews to prevent poor connections. However, many college students do not have access to land line phones. If that is the case, make sure that you plan to be in a location with excellent cell phone reception.

For more tips on telephone interviewing, read the following online articles: “Phone Interview Tips” (About.com), “Ace Your Phone Interview: 21 Quick and Simple Tips” (CBS Moneywatch). Position U 4 College provides resume help and interview preparation for students applying to college or graduate programs, as well as those seeking internships or employment. Contact us for further information.

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