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In the staffing solutions industry, especially in the international markets, there is a huge reliance on phone interviews. However, there aren’t too many people overly comfortable with interviewing over the phone and primarily this boils down to a lack of perceived ongoing feedback. The main barrier of a phone interview compared to a face to face is that of communication. Somewhat surprisingly, in a face to face interview only 7% of the overall message conveyed is done so using words (i.e. verbally). This is compared to 38% vocally (pitch, tone, volume, pace). Finally 55% is reliant upon body language (movements, stance, posture, even handshake). This means, that while you’re being evaluated and interviewed, you are physically able to see and evaluate your own performance judging by the ongoing reaction of the interviewer. These statistics change somewhat dramatically when compared to a phone interview where it’s roughly 83% vocal and 17% words. Because there is no visual aid or stimulants in a phone interview parts of your message can be lost in translation, particularly with the body language component removed. To make up for this it’s necessary to smile (it makes you sound happier over the phone), watch your tone and volume (certainly don’t come across as too forceful) and eliminate verbal pauses (such as the infamous ‘erm’, ‘um’, ‘uh’). Be articulate. Don’t use slang or lazy linguistics (like ‘innit’ or ‘ain’t’ instead of ‘isn’t it’ or ‘gonna’ instead of ‘going to’ and certainly don’t be rude!

A phone interview is a company’s first step to screen candidates for a position. Inevitably you’ll be asked about your background, experience, CV / Resume, qualifications and in turn you’ll learn more about the company and the position itself. By and large this type of conversation will last for about 30-45minutes and is an initial opportunity to develop rapport with future employers. Major tips are certainly to act professionally, enthusiastically and knowledgeably. It is inadvisable to conduct the interview either unexpectedly or in an unplanned manner i.e. should the interviewer call while you’re on the train for instance.

Whilst many make the mistake of treating a phone interview as being a more relaxed setting, don’t fall into that trap. Dress professionally. Interviewing in pyjamas sat on the couch isn’t going to make you feel or sound professional. Sit at a table dressed in formal attire is far better subconsciously which is reflected down the phone.

Hide distractions. Keep email, magazines and any other visual distractions out of sight. It doesn’t create the greatest of first impressions if you are continually asking to repeat questions. Silence any background noises like the TV or Radio. Interviewers can tell, particularly if there’s static on the line!

Understandably it helps if you are personable. An interested, enthusiastic voice will go a long way further towards establishing rapport than someone dull, mundane and monotonous. Try to reflect charisma, fun and panache.

Request ongoing feedback. Rather than long drawn out answers, keep answers concise and end with questions. For instance ‘does that make sense’ or ‘do you agree’. That way an interviewer can’t switch off because engagement and interaction are forthcoming throughout the conversation.

Demonstrate flexibility. For instance if you are to move internationally, explain how you’d be willing to sell your house and / or car in order to facilitate a move. If you can’t sell, stress that you’re more than happy to rent instead.

Ask questions. Questions are the best tool you have to find out more information about a job, employer or company. At the same time they’re vital as a mechanism to differentiate yourself from the pack. Don’t ask about working hours, salary, or anything generic. Ask questions more pertinent to the job and / or relevant to the interviewer. Find out their background, how they got where they are and where they could see you going in years to come. Find out if there’s assistance with extracurricular learning and team bonding exercises.

Finally – be thankful. You got this opportunity, there may be countless others that haven’t got this far. Thank the interviewer for their time and ask about next steps. It demonstrates that you’re interested in progressing and ends on a positive note.

That being said, none of this is helpful unless you’ve done your research and know your CV inside out. If you can’t explain what’s documented then chances are you won’t be getting the position!

Good luck!


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