Many people are initially relieved they can avoid almost all face-to-face interviews when applying for work-at-home jobs. After all, you may be working for someone across the country instead of across town. That makes it a little hard to accommodate in-person introductions.
That doesn’t mean you are off the hook, however. While most telecommuting job communication is done by email, many hiring managers and recruiters use phone interviews to screen applicants. If you've sent in a great resume and cover letter, an invitation to the phone interview is likely to be the first step that an employer takes. A phone interview can trip you up, however, if you aren't prepared.
Today, I wanted to share a few tips to help you feel – and sound – more confident.
1. Choose the proper place
When choosing where to conduct your interview, there are a few things to consider. For starters, you want to be the one answering the phone. The interviewer is expecting to speak with you, not be put on hold while someone rounds you up.
Your interview space should also be a quiet one free from distraction. You want to portray a professional work environment. If it sounds like pure chaos in the background, your hiring manager may worry you won't be able to conduct your job properly or with enough focus with so many distractions. You also don't want to have to ask, or be asked, for something to be repeated because your environment is too loud or you are trying to whisper.
While it's best to use a landline, you may not have one available. If that's the case, at least make sure you have a strong signal. You don't want your interview dropped mid-sentence.
2. Test your equipment
Perhaps your interview won’t be over the phone but through an online service like Skype or Zoom. It’s important to take a few minutes prior to your scheduled time to make sure any necessary software is downloaded and updated. Test your microphone or headset.
3. Be conscious of how energetic you sound
It's important to watch the energy level that you communicate through your voice. While you want to sound professional, you also need to make sure that you sound enthusiastic. Your voice is all that your phone interviewer can use to judge what you're like. If you seem to lack enthusiasm, they will notice.
This is especially the case if you are interviewing for a job that will have you communicating by voice to customers or clients. If you will be in customer service, tutoring or appointment setting role, your voice and personality will directly reflect on a company’s reputation.
4. Prepare well
Sometimes, people looking for remote jobs tend to not take phone interviews seriously. They see them as a mere formality. It's important to understand, however, that people don't often get the job offer if they don't do well on their phone interviews first.
It can help to familiarize yourself with the usual phone interview questions. Often, phone interviews don't go into specifics. Rather, they tend to be aimed at obtaining information about whether you have the experience that is relevant to the job, whether you seem like an enthusiastic worker, and if you have good communication skills. It can help to practice articulating yourself to a friend, to prepare for a phone interview.
A few questions to prepare for:
- Why do you want to work from home? Use this as an opportunity to stress your independence and productivity, not give a laundry list of reasons you need more time off or can’t work on Fridays. Focus on your strengths, not things that may be seen as a weakness or potential problem down the road.
- Why should we hire you? Thoroughly read through the job description and requirements. Make a few notes about how and why you are a good match.
- Why do you want this job?
- How would you handle a difficult customer?
- What would you do if you had an emergency and couldn’t make your shift?
- What would you do if your computer locked up during your shift?
- What do you like to do during your free time?
5. Remember that you'll be making your first impression
In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers found that people obtained their first impressions of people in mere fractions of a second.
Your phone interview will be your chance to make your first impression. Your interviewer will focus closely on your voice, the cadence, and the timbre. In general, it's not a good idea to accept a phone interview first thing in the morning. You need to give your voice a little time to get to its normal state, once you get up.
6. Pay attention to your body language
Some researchers believe that body language contributes to more than 50 percent of the impression that you make during the course of a conversation. While the telephone doesn't convey visual cues, the way you hold yourself can have an effect on how you project your voice.
Whether you are sitting or standing, for instance, it can change how you get your voice to sound. If you want to come across as serious, enthusiastic and professional, it would be a good idea to get dressed in professional clothes, sit up straight, smile, and use your hands to gesture as you get points across. All of it can affect how your voice sounds. It can even help to do a few stretches ahead of the interview. Loosened up limbs can make for a more relaxed ability to speak.
7. Get relevant documents and materials ready
You may believe that a phone interview doesn't require you to be prepared with documents and materials. After all, phone interviews are supposed to go over questions of a general nature. Even if you know the answers to the questions that you're asked, however, it can help to have the relevant materials in front of you.
You'll be able to focus better when you have a physical copy of your resume in front of you, as well as any other notes or questions you’ve come up with during your preparation. When you're asked a question, you'll be more responsive when your eyes can dart to a relevant page or note for the answer.
8. Learn everything you can about the company and the position
Your interviewer will want to see you demonstrate initiative. While they will want to know about your qualifications and experience, they will also look for proof that you are interested in the company.
They will expect you to be familiar with the company's background and the role to which you have applied. It can help to be prepared.
9. Think of questions to ask
Interviewers always make a point to ask candidates if they have any questions of their own. If you have questions, it demonstrates that you've been thinking seriously about the company. It's important to not ask questions to which answers are likely to be easy to find on the internet. Instead, you should think of questions that help you determine that the company is a good fit for you.
Perhaps you have questions about scheduling or pay or training. Are there fees involved? Is there opportunities for advancement? When can I expect to hear from you next?
Finally, once the interview wraps up, you should make sure that you send the interviewer a note over email to thank them for their time. You can express your enthusiasm about the position in the note, and attach samples of your work or anything else that they may have asked for.
With these ideas in mind, you should be better prepared to face a phone interview, ace it, and make your way to the next round.