The Joy of Phone Interviews

I have a phone interview on Thursday, so I turned to my favorite research library, Pinterest, to read what others have to say about the subject.

Cosmopolitan Magazine’s, Molly Triffen, writes advice about sex,  makeup, and finding a job. In her article, 16 Tips for Owning a Phone Interview, she advises readers to turn on the radio to start preparing. “Whether it’s Cosmo on Sirius XM, NPR, or the Red Sox game, notice the words and tone the hosts use to create a mental picture for listeners.” Since I lack confidence in the sound of my voice and rusty interview skills, listening to the radio sounds like a great idea. If writers become better writers by reading, then why wouldn’t speakers become better speakers by imitating the professionals? Senior Writer, Kim Lachance, posts a beautiful infographic about the art of phone conversations. This infographic is geared towards salespeople, but since a phone interview is essentially a self-promoting sales pitch, her advice applies. Smiling during the phone call is mentioned three times in her infographic because smiling has a positive effect on your attitude and the sound of your voice. It instills confidence in the speaker and builds trust with the receiver. The infographic advises to keep a copy of your resume and talking points on hand. Don’t read from a script, rather refer to one to avoid rambling and appearing unprepared.

My advice to you (and myself) — practice. If this is the conversation that will get your foot in the door, it is worth the extra effort of practice. Practice 5 times with 3 different people (at a minimum) and then one more time an hour before the call. This will make you sound less scripted when the nerves kick in because your body’s muscle memory will take over.

Man and Woman in an elevator
Practice your 30 second elevator speech to answer the question, “tell me about yourself.” Photo borrowed courtesy of:

Speaking of practice, practice your 30 second “elevator speech” – which I haven’t written yet, it is your answer to the most common phone interview question, “tell me about yourself.”

Next, research the company. I am (of course) following them on LinkedIn and familiar with their website. So now I will research the kind of work the department does.

Compare my resume and cover letter with the position description. What specific experience, one or two things, do I want to mention during the phone interview? How does it apply to the job I will be doing?

Below is a list of job requirements and my relevant experience:

  1. Job Requirement: The position involves considerable interaction with staff within the group.

My experience: I work well with others. I can take the lead in organizing and motivating others, delegating work according to the strengths and weakness of individuals on a team. Team player able to take, or let loose of, the reigns and work collaboratively.

  1. Job Requirement: interest in working with American Indian tribes is preferred.

My Experience: Multicultural courses in immigration, marketing, and education. Experience with a diverse urban population in an academic setting.

  1. Job Requirement: Experience with the preparation of grant applications and reports.

My Experience: IRB protocol, Grant Recipient, marketing proposals and plans, academic and business writer, and writing tutor.

  1. Job Activity: Conducts meeting planning and coordination, including invitation clearances, correspondence, meeting logistics, travel-related arrangements, communication with meeting participants, on-site support functions and preparation of meeting packets, table tents, badges and other meeting materials.

My Experience: I did this as a team captain at the Landmark Education Forum for Teens, Young Adults, and a Family Seminar. I planned and led training meetings and introductions for interested families.  Also at RE/MAX I was the logistics coordinator for monthly new agent meetings and the Balloon Pilot scheduler. Pet Projekt and Red Ribbon Week at Walnut Hills Elementary.

Wish me luck as I write my elevator speech, listen to NPR, and practice smiling.


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