The Invisible Interviewee: The Additional Challenges of a Phone Interview

by Brian Skory

Let’s face it—interviewing is tough enough when you’re sitting face to face with your interviewer. Conducting an interview over the phone simply adds additional variables to contend with—each of which, if incorrectly addressed, can potentially sabotage the interview. To address this, I suggest a three-step approach to maximize the results of your telephone interview.

  1. You Want to be Heard – Unfortunately, cell phone reception is typically "okay" at best. Although a landline won't always be accessible, it is still generally the clearest form of telephone communication. When possible, try to schedule your interview at a time when you will have access to a landline. And whether on landline or cell phone (but especially when calling from a cell phone), make sure you are somewhere with minimal background noise.
  2. You Want to be Understood – Being correctly understood is much more difficult when you are invisible. Body language and facial expressions are just two of the components of communication that will be missing when talking over the phone. Minimize this complication by speaking much more clearly than you normally would. For some, that might also mean speaking more slowly than usual. As well, try to avoid humor. Without the facial queues, such as smiles and such, it could be misconstrued as sarcasm (a definite interview turn-off).
  3. You Want to Stand Out From the Other Candidates Being Interviewed – Here's where you actually have the advantage when being interviewed by phone—you get to have your laptop, your notes and all of your questions spread out in front of you. Take the time to print out some key pages from their website. Highlight areas you might find yourself wanting to reference during the interview. Prepare a list of well thought-out questions and have them printed out and in front of you. You are going to have 20-30 minutes to stand out from the crowd. Ensure that you've taken the time to prepare to do so.

Follow this format and maximize the results of your telephone interview.
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