Acing the Phone Interview

You’ve applied for several community college jobs and are scheduled for a phone interview. You have to rely on your voice and the content of your answers to make an impression.  Practice responding to questions while speaking into a digital recorder. Then play back your answers and listen to yourself. Do you speak too quickly? Too slowly? Too loud or too soft? Do you speak expressively or in a monotone? Do you use filler sounds such as “uh”, “hmm” or “like” too frequently? Do you have buzz phrases you use over and over again, such as “extensive experience”, “creative and innovative”, or “analytical problem-solving skills?”

A silence seems twice as long over the phone as it does in person, so be ready with your answers. Keep in mind, a speaker phone or a Bluetooth can make it sound as though you are responding from inside a well. Use a handset and keep the microphone end close to your mouth at all times. The Doppler effect created by the phone moving around is very annoying to interviewers.

If you are using your cell phone, be sure you are in a place where you have good reception, and don’t try to drive your car at the same time! One interviewer listened in amused shock as her candidate was pulled over and issued a speeding ticket during an interview. No, the candidate did not get called back.

Not only do you need to pay attention to your own verbal expressiveness, but you will need to listen to the nuances in your interviewer’s voices. You won’t be able to tell from their expressions if you are connecting with them, so be more alert to whatever feedback you do receive. Phone interviews are not easy, but with proper preparation, you can ace the phone call.

Dindy Robinson is Director of Compensation at Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas.

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