Flying candidates thousands of miles for a day or two of interviews is not realistic and unnecessary with the current available technology. Lining up internal interviewers for a day of interviewing is not often feasible.
There is no question that in some facets interviewing by phone even enhanced with webcam is far more difficult than in person. The interviewer will rely much more on the sound of your voice for their impressions.
Here are some suggestions to navigate you way through a successful phone interview.
Times zones present the biggest channel for international interviews morning in California is night in India and lunchtime in New York is after dinner in the UK. You have to accommodate the company’s business hours regardless of how that conflicts with your schedule and sleep time. Be sure you are fresh, mentally alert and ready regardless of time. Use caffeine.
Because of time zone differences, emails can fly back and forth in attempts to arrange schedule as well as chat messages if you are using SKYPE. Keep track of all communications documentation either in printed form or in a folder on your computer. Things can go awry.
Ironically in this age of technology, a three-ring binder with tabs can be the most portable, efficient method for keeping track of interview records. If you are adept with a contact management system such as MS Outlook, or ACT then attaching all emails to the contact’s record works equally well as your calendar appointments can be linked as well. Your smart phone will not work for this.
The important thing is that you have easy access to a historical record of all your exchanges with the company as well as company literature, brochures, and other data. This is your reference material.
Knowing what you are going to say in advance and having crib sheets to refer to is the big advantage of the phone interview. Preparing scripts to use during an interview will over the long-run will be a very profitable investment of your self-marketing efforts. Whatever you write about yourself can with some modifications be used in social networking profiles, your professional website, and cover letters. It becomes a familiar story.
The kind of scripts I am referring to are not written answers to job questions. Though writing out those answers will give you good practice in organizing your thoughts, relying on them in any interview is not a good idea. Every company is different and though they may often ask the same exact question your answers will vary based on the company’s business market, style, and employment need. Spontaneity is a virtue.
However, when talking about yourself e.g. your elevator pitch, using a written script is a good reference tool. You will find as you deliver your elevator pitch over time you will be able to insert nuances, variations and enhancements. This is well-rehearsed improvisation.
You need to be heard which may necessitate using a landline phone rather than a cell phone. Reception is crucial. In some countries cell phone service is perfection (and I am not referring to the USA) but other poor are at best.
Make sure you always have the best possible computer microphones, web-cams, cell phones and VOIP devices available to you. The difference in sound quality and noise cancelling ability of a JawBone Bluetooth headset ($149) versus a less expensive brand ($49) is huge.
Many people are turning to VOIP (voice over IP) services such as Vonage and SKYPE. It is important that your broadband service has the bandwidth easily handle VOIP calls and not lag. You may need to be emailing or sending files as well as talking and that can drag on your connection. Your service needs to handle all the data packets without dropping them. Go to www.speedtest.net to check.
Test out the sound quality of the speaker mode on your phone before using it. Speaker mode has improved such that it is a viable hands free option during an interview. But do not do a phone interview while driving.
Where will you physically locate yourself for the phone interview? Regardless of time zones, interviewing at your current workplace is not a good idea. Interruptions happen and phone line security is always a question as the communications outlets are the property of your company. Optimally, a home office space with peace and quiet will provide you the best stage to present yourself.
If you have a mirror consider putting it up in front of your desk on a wall some distance away. This will let you monitor your body language and actually helps to keep your tone and delivery positive. Seeing yourself naturally engenders a smile not a frown and improves your posture which in turn helps you to speak with confidence and enthusiasm.
Have your information about the organization coherently organized before you. The last thing you want is to shuffle through files and notes for information. Turn off call waiting on your phone and have any incoming calls go straight to voicemail.
Finally, when using a web-camera or video call like SKYPE set up neutral background behind you. Given the differences in cultures and customs from country to country, try to arrange a professional backdrop that is devoid of clutter, toys, over-flowing bookshelves, and stacks of computer equipment. Lock the cat and the dog out.
Remember above all that there is a human being on the other end of the line not just a voice. Make an extra effort to be engaging, friendly, personable and warm. Those qualities are harder to enunciate and project though air waves and wires.
Accents are even more problematic on a phone call compared to in-person where you can add body language and facial expressions to help understand the communication. If English is your second language (while it is the first language of the business world) speak slowly and enunciate.
The best way to assess how you come across is with voice mail. Call your friends and deliver your elevator pitch to their voice mail. Assess their reactions.
Approach a phone interview as a well-orchestrated live production being recorded for television or YouTube. You are the star, the director and producer. You control the audio, video, content and the delivery. This can be a work of theatric perfection if you rehearse, setup well, use the right equipment and make a relaxed, personable delivery.