Post # 1
Specifically phone interview tips, if you’ve got ’em! 🙂
We are moving to a new city and I’m looking for a new job. Darling Husband has a friend who works for a very large non-profit and she forwarded my resume to a mid-level VP. HR called me to set up an interview and I’ll be speaking with this department VP tomorrow morning!
I’m excited about this opportunity but it’s been awhile since I interviewed. Does anyone have any good interview tips and tricks, particularly for phone interviews? I feel like it can be harder to make a good impression over the phone than in person!
Post # 3
Okay, this sounds goofy, but don’t have a phone interview while you’re wearing pajamas or something. Obviously, you don’t have to put on a suit, but what you wear will impact your mindset/attitude, even if you don’t think it will.
And you’re right, it’s definitely more difficult to make an good first impression over the phone, but it can totally be done. I think one of the biggest downfalls of phone interviews is that the pauses are more awkward. In person, it’s obvious that you’re contemplating an answer; that’s a little more difficult to convey over the phone. So maybe prepare a few responses to some pretty standard questions that will be asked — about you, your experience, why you want the job, what you can contribute, etc.
Also, prepare some questions to ask the interviewer. It’s almost a guarantee that they’ll ask you if you have questions, and it definitely makes you look good to have some. A career mentor told me once that a good question is, “What are the three most important characteristics/traits/strengths needed for this position?” It gives you an idea of what the interviewer is looking for, and then you can address how you fit those key traits.
A bonus of phone interviews is that you can jot down all the notes you want ahead of time — reminders of things to say, a list of questions, etc — and have it with you to reference while you’re on the phone. Kinda like a cheat sheet for a test. And hopefully having that will calm your nerves.
If possible, send a brief, professional thank-you note after the interview.
Congratulations on the interview and good luck!
Post # 4
I agree 100% with everything Gem said. I would also add that I interview a lot of people in my job and things I really like to see are:
- genuine knowledge of my company and office – clear idea of what we do and how their skills will benefit our office
- preparation of good questions – about what we are looking for, best and worst things about the job, challenges they might face, what an average day is like, etc.
- confidence, but not arrogance – I like to see someone who has confidence in their experience and interest (clear answers, no long pauses, articulate, creative ideas), but doesn’t come across as disinterested because they are just too cool for school
Phone interviews are hard, but I agree with Gem – put yourself in an interview state of mind with your outfit, sit at a desk or something, etc., but also take advantage of being able to have notes. Try to keep a smile on your face – it’ll come through in your voice. Good luck!
Post # 5
@septcabride: Ooh, those are great tips, too! Especially the company knowledge.
Post # 6
Thanks ladies! These are great tips. I have a phone call scheduled tonight with my contact (the one who passed on my resume) so I’m hoping I can get some insight on the department, the organization, and the VP with whom I’ll be interviewing. She actually was previously in this position I’m interviewing for, so I’m sure talking to her will be a big help.
I will definitely need the cheat sheet…it’s been awhile since I’ve interviewed, and I don’t want to stumble on the basics like, “Tell me about yourself.” For some reason I always think that’s the hardest part, because it’s my one shot at a first impression and I don’t just want to rehash my resume.
Post # 7
@MM423: I completely agree – that is always the hardest part! I try to mix the personal and professional so that the interviewer immediately sees me as a person as well as a resume. For example, I will say, “I grew up in XX and went to college at XX, then moved to XX for grad school XX and stayed in XX city because I love the x, y, and z. For the last X years I have been working at XXX, but during grad school I interned at x, y, and z, where I gained a lot of good experience with a, b, and c.” Obviously, that’s totally general, but I am just trying to give you a sense of how I start interviews. I think it is totally okay – and even recommended – to add in some information about your personal history and hobbies, but stay away from the ticking interview time bombs – husband, kids, etc.
One more thing – prepare yourself for the fact that you may be interviewing with more than one person. I think it is pretty common to conference people in for phone interviews.
Post # 8
Gemstone and septcabride have some great tips! I really don’t have much to add other than don’t be afraid to use hand gestures, pace (makes you sound more energetic) and smile through the whole thing. Speak concisely and if you’re giving phone numbers say them as you trace each number in the air with your finger. It’s a good representation of how long it takes for the listening party to write down the numbers and keeps you from rushing through it and having to repeat yourself multiple times. Good luck!!
Post # 9
@septcabride: I have a question for you about the “ticking time bomb” issues. We’re moving because my husband got a new job. Do you think it’s okay to reference that? It would be kind of difficult for me to explain why I’m quitting my current job and moving without mentioning his new job.
@Aure: I really like what you suggested about the numbers…that’s a great idea! I definitely need to work on being concise too…I feel like I tend to ramble when I’m nervous instead of just getting to the point!
Post # 10
@MM423: I actually think that is the one and only situation where you can mention your husband. Companies generally like to interview locally because the candidates are a sure bet. Because you are interviewing from another place, you need to be sure they know that you are 100% committed to relocating. The fact that your husband already has a job there is a great commitment.
Just a feminist rant for a second – there is a ton of evidence that men advance in their careers and are seen as more desirable job candidates as they age. A married man is deemed more stable than a bachelor, a man with kids even more so. The opposite is true for women and their earning/career advancement potential.
Post # 11
@MM423: I think it’s okay to mention why you’re relocating. I used to work with a girl who was moving with her husband because he was starting his medical residency, and I know she made the interviewer aware. It’s pretty common, I think. Just give it a positive spin, “My family is relocating for my husband’s job, which gives me the opportunity to refine my own career goals, which fit in with this position by x, y, z” or something like that.
Post # 12
I actually got my first internship over phone interviews :)………and they hired me full-time 🙂
Take a few deep breaths before you call/answer the phone
Have your resume and a copy of the job description in front of you
Have questions to ask them prepared
Be careful not to ramble (problem of mine) since you can’t see their body language to know when they’ve had enough or want to move on.
Same with talking too fast!
Like a PP said, act like they are right there in front of you – laugh, smile, hand motions
Post # 13
It may seem obvious, but make sure you are in a quiet place with good cell phone reception.
I once conducted a phone interview with a person that was in a grocery store shopping….he told me this!
Also, if asked what you are looking for in a position or similar, always gear your answers towards what you can do/bring to the company you’re interviewing with. You would be surprised how many people tell me they’re looking for a short commute or just looking for a job! Hope This Helps
Post # 14
Dont say “um or ahh of hmm”. Be confident! Dont speek bad of your former employer at all. It just makes you look bad. One good tip is perhaps ask them what their experience has been working for the company. I asked that when I had my last job interview (3 years ago) and my boss was super impressed, cause it shows your really interested. And keep your answers short and to the point!
Post # 15
@Gemstone: That’s what I figured…it’s a pretty integral part of my relocation “story” so it would be tough to leave it out!
@septcabride: I know what you’re saying! A man who’s married and has kids is a sign of stability, whereas a woman is a liability. It definitely is frustrating. I will definitely keep your advice in mind, though, and not mention too many personal details.
@hisgoosiegirl: I used to always have the problem of talking too fast…but then I started to work way out in the country and no one could understand me, so I had to force myself to slow down! :p
@Spinwife: That’s crazy that anyone would think that’s an acceptable place to do a phone interview!
Post # 16
@Ashley_B: that’s actually something really good to ask, in my experience. Or asking ‘what’s your favorite thing about working at Company X’ – helps you get an idea of what the company focuses on.