So you’ve got through the gate and you are getting ready for your first interview – a telephonic interview.
How do you prepare for a telephonic interview? In one word – Rehearse!
In today’s tough market, you will not get second opportunities. You have to get everything First Time Right. Same is the case with your telephonic interview.
An interview is like an elaborate play which is staged live. If it is a telephonic interview, the play is presented in audio mode only. If it is a face-to-face interview, then the play is presented live and in person. Preparation for each differs significantly and today I will be dealing only with the telephonic interview.
Before the interview, especially if you are interviewing for a senior position, your resume would have been fully evaluated. Some words, experience, knowledge, expertise that you have will have struck a chord of interest in the mind of the recruiter who evaluated your resume.
Today’s recruiters are “Jacks (or Jills) of all trades”. They have to evaluate candidates for a large variety of positions in their organization. This makes their jobs quite difficult. Each resume would have the published job description along with the candidate’s resume and perhaps an evaluation sheet with questions for each of the characteristics on which the recruiter is required to evaluate you on.
So how can you prepare and rehearse? First and foremost, you need to study the job description thoroughly. Put yourself in the position of your hiring manager. What is s/he looking for? The job description will give you many clues. Make a list of those skills, abilities, experiences and expertise.
Next, evaluate that list with what you have. Now take each of these items and craft out questions which could be asked to ascertain if you have these skills. You may find that you do not have some of those skills – don’t worry. Rare is the situation where a single individual fulfills all the requirements of a job. Many job descriptions are wish lists and there are always compromises made – on skills, years of experience, compensation, location – everything is negotiable and has the potential for compromise.
Finally, ask each of those questions to yourself and answer them as if you were talking on the phone – ALOUD. To really do a good job, ask the questions in a voice different from your normal voice – as if it is a different person asking those questions. Don’t think about answers to those questions, but articulate them aloud. Hear yourself pronouncing each word in complete sentences – as if you are talking on the phone.
You will find that you need to intone better. Emphasize in certain places. Speak softly in others. Use specific buzz words at strategic moments. Construct your sentences in a particular manner. Until you’ve heard yourself speak out those answers flawlessly do NOT stop. Rehearse again and again – remember you have no second chances!
What else do you watch for? Watch out for how your thought process progresses. You might find you are going in a direction that does you disservice more than it helps you. “Note to self: don’t go down that path!”
If you have the facility, record your rehearsal and hear them out yourself. You will find that you speak fast when you know the answer and slower when you don’t. You might have some buzz words which are more to fill time e.g. “basically” and “you know” are two of the most common filler words. If you find that you are short of time because of the vast amount of relevant knowledge that you have for the position ,then you will need to work on reducing these filler words.
You might want to stress on certain words, say some phrases in a particular manner so that attention is drawn to them, use certain industry jargon relevant to the position. This is your opportunity to incorporate it into your talking points. Don’t miss out on them.
Above all, keep a sharp watch on the time. If the telephonic interview is of just 30 minutes, then shorten your answers to drop some of the less important points with a “when I have my face-to-face, I will have a much better opportunity to explain this in all the detail required.” And when you are just a few minutes from the end of the call, do remind the recruiter about it.