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Ace Your Phone Interview

Posted on: April 2nd, 2015 by Pam Norton 1 Comment

As operations get more global and more people work on virtual teams, your voice is often the only way your coworkers, partners and customers know you.  I asked my friend and colleague, Voice and Performance Coach Laurece West, to share her expert advice, and we will be writing a series of joint blog posts over the next few weeks to bring you the best skills and practices to help you be more effective on the phone whether you’re interviewing, leading meetings or making presentations.   This first post is addresses job interviews.

business woman with a computer laptop and phone

Conventional wisdom says that to ace a job interview you need to research the company and position, outline how your skills and experience provide the solution the manager is looking for and make a connection with the interviewer to demonstrate that you’re a good fit.

Telephone interviews are often a first step in the hiring process, so it’s important to have a great interview so you can move to the next step, which will hopefully be an in-person interview with the hiring manager.

To prepare for a phone interview, make sure you have a copy of your resume in front of you, the company’s website up on your computer screen if possible and are sitting someplace quiet with no distractions. Turn off any alerts or gadgets so you can stay present and focus.

While you don’t have to worry about what to wear on a phone interview, establishing rapport with the interviewer can be a challenge. Here are four strategies to increase your odds of success:

  • Your voice can make or break your interview success. You want to sound confident and capable yet collaborative and congenial. People who are nervous tend to speak quickly, and people who are excited tend to speak louder and in a higher pitch. You want to modulate your voice to project the image you want to convey. The key is to sit up straight or even stand up with good posture, breath and smile. Yes, your smile will come across even over the phone.
  • Try to avoid answering a question with a straight yes or no, but also keep your answers on point. Don’t ramble since you can’t see if the interviewer has tuned out. If you need to give a longer answer, pause partway through to confirm whether you’re giving the type of information the interviewer is looking for.
  • Stories connect people – it’s part of the human experience, but stories can get too long. Try telling a story via a P-A-R summary – we had this problem, here’s the action I took, and it produced these results.
  • Equipment matters. If possible conduct the call on a landline to ensure the best connection. Speakerphones can make you sound distant and tinny. Use a headset or pick up the receiver.

Once the interview has completed, don’t forget to ask about next steps and send a thank you to the interviewer.

Advice from Laurece West, Voice and Performance Coach

Do You Know How You Sound to the World?

Singers give phone interviews about performances and recordings which are broadcast or published later. Speakers deliver virtual presentations to clients and business associates. What applies to the phone, applies in spades to interviews in person and on video.

Record yourself. Your voice sounds differently outside your body. Be gentle and loving as you listen. What do you notice?

I have all my clients record our sessions. This is extremely important as you learn how you actually sound to the rest of the world! Be very gentle with yourself as you listen.

Have you ever heard your recorded voice and said “That’s me? Uuugghh!” Do you know why you hated it? Because you had never heard yourself this way and it was a real shock! You may not have been told why this was a surprise.

Your voice sounds differently to you than to anyone else. As you express yourself you hear your voice outside your body coming back into your ears, just like you hear anyone else’s voice. But you also hear your voice coming up through your bones and flesh, resonating inside you, perceived by your inner ear. Thus, no one else in the world hears your voice the way you do. They aren’t hearing those inner vibrations. When you hear your recorded voice, it is true to what everyone else hears, but you had never heard it this way before, minus the inner vibrations.

Here is where you must be kind to yourself. If you reject your recorded voice, you will keep pushing it away focusing on your disdain. You’ll miss learning the wonderful information your voice holds.

Approach it as an exploration in getting to know this new voice, this aspect of yourself. Who is this person? Who is this voice? Be curious as you get to know yourself this way. The goal is to be discerning about what you wish to change, yet having acceptance, then finally appreciation and love when you hear your recorded voice, this wonderful part of yourself.

There is a voice recorder app on your phone. Use the higher quality setting to hear less distortion so the recording is more true to the actual sound of your voice. On my android there is a little mike icon that I can tap to increase the recording quality.

Record your interviews, record yourself reading, record yourself talking about a memory, record phone calls with a friend, business calls and phone messages you leave. What do you notice? What was effective and authentic? What would you like to change? Make changes. Keep the faith, keep listening and keep practicing!

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 About Laurece:  Laurece West trains students and advancing professionals individually and in groups. She facilitates success (and fun) with her workshop “Ace Your Interviews!™” Connect with her at www.laureceweststudios.com. There you’ll find links to her You Tube Channel, Facebook and Linkedin.

About Pam: As a Career Success Coach, I help individuals and teams tap into their strengths and potential, eliminate self-sabotaging behaviors, think and execute strategically, and get more success and fulfillment from their careers. You can learn more about me at www.transitionsparkcoaching.com. While you’re there, download my free e-book to help you identify and stop self-sabotaging behavior, Get Out of Your Own Way To Get What You Want. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and Facebook.