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Phone Interview Tips: Make Them Remember You (For The Right Reasons)

Oakstone International Executive Search phone interview tips: make them remember you

Congratulations – you made the shortlist. You beat a whole bunch of world class people to make it this far. 

We had to call 100 people to narrow it down to the small elite group you now occupy. You’re one of three or four we put forward for the role.

Now your real work begins – now it’s time to step up because you’re facing one of the biggest obstacles of all…

The first phone call.

This is the point where some executives – good people who should know better – suddenly falter and undersell themselves.

Some choke under pressure. Others are too relaxed. Either way, they blow it. Here’s how not to…

Treat That First Phone Call Like A Face-To-Face Meeting

Seriously. Behave as if the caller were in the room with you. Sitting across the desk just a metre or two from you.

Okay, in theory you could sit there in your Minions onesie and Batman slippers while discussing how to drive their Q4 global sales. Who cares? They can’t see you.

But you won’t be in the right frame of mind. You won’t be in ‘work mode’.

So look the part. Suit up. Pull your very best power-suit from its designer cover and press the creases so they’re sharp enough to split the atom. Look like you were born for the boardroom.

Dress for the role that’s yours for the taking – and get serious about taking it.

Setting The Mood

You’ll almost certainly be at home when this call takes place.

Don’t even think about making or taking a call as important as this in a public place or – heaven forbid – on public transport: “Sorry…we’re just going into a tunnel…”

Home is best place for this call – but they don’t want to hear your home life in the background. So no screaming kids, no TV.

Banish your noisy family for the duration of this crucial call. Clear the room and close the door. If they’re out of the house altogether, so much the better.

Choose a room which is guaranteed to be quiet, peaceful and free from unexpected distractions such as sirens. They don’t create a good impression…people immediately assume ‘police/crime’, even if they’re ambulances.

If in doubt, test the location by phoning your home to see how good the line is and the quality of your phone handset microphone. Is it sensitive to small movements? Will it sound as if it’s cutting out if you move even a fraction?

It’s tempting to pick a bedroom but don’t. Your phone interview room should have a proper chair so you can sit up straight while speaking and a desk for your CV and notes (which should always be to hand).

Make sure your laptop is fired up with all the relevant company web pages open in separate tabs so you have all the answers to hand when they ask how much do you know about them…but try not to sound like you’re parroting yours answers straight from a cribsheet.

Some people prefer not to be seated when the big call comes (and all calls are big calls). Instead they like to pace while they talk. Either way, you need a comfortable space with no distractions.

Remember – you’re working. So no lying on a bed and staring at the ceiling while you’re speaking! They can hear if you sound too relaxed.

During The Phone Interview

We make phone calls for a living. Hundreds of them every day. So we can hear every little nuance. Assume that your interviewer can too.

This is going to sound obvious but don’t sneak a crafty slurp from a cuppa during a convenient pause in the conversation. They can hear you (no matter how much you think they can’t).

And this will sound contradictory but do keep a glass of water handy for absolute emergencies in case you dry up.

Smile when you speak to build rapport. In your mind they’re right there in the room with you.

Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in front of them. By that we mean snacking, chewing gum and so on. It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised. We are (or rather we used to be).

Don’t get over-excited and brain-dump on them. Take it gently. Speak clearly and with good diction. And don’t interrupt them.

Think about your answers. Speak deliberately and with enthusiasm. Don’t gabble. Concentrate hard to avoid ums, ers and other conversational fillers.

Make sure you ask plenty of questions – after all, it’s a two-way process. They have to persuade you why you need to leave your already awesome job.

They need to inspire you just as much as you need to inspire them. But don’t be over-confident – always be respectful.

You might be a well heavy hitter who always aces their sales targets.

But they’re the ones setting the targets.