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> Monday, March 26th, 2012 > Lifestyles > Don't be phony
Don't be phony
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Jessica Ireland
Published: Monday, March 26th, 2012
Perfecting your handshake, remembering deodorant, making sure you’re wearing pants – all things essential to preparing for an interview. But as phone and Skype interviews become more common, a new set of rules comes into play.
Author and fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone championed the phrase “Give good phone,” and really, there’s no better time to consider her wise words than when getting ready for a phone interview. This method of interviewing has become more popular as people are applying farther away from their current cities and companies are considering a wider applicant base.
In most cases, the phone interview is part of a multi-level job interview process – a screening tool to see if you’ll make the cut for an in-person interview, said Jill Wright, Principal of TKX Inc., a local communications and public relations firm. “It is a method for companies to save time and money during their hiring process and solidify the top candidate list.”
But even though the interviewer won’t see you physically, you still have to be ready. You should still research the company as if it were an in-person interview; however, phone interviews give you a break from the usual interview worries.
“The positive side (of phone interviews) is that you can be comfortable, wear what you want, sit where you want, and you can have your cover letter and job description open, or even the organization’s website if you need to refer to it,” said Jen Fraser, who has had lots of experience with this type of interview.
In addition to your cover letter, it also helps to print out your resume. Other important documents to have on hand are the job description and a list of keywords that relate to it or the company’s goals or mission statement so you can reference them appropriately in your answers.
Preparedness in phone interviews is paramount, said Fraser. While you may feel more comfortable because you’re not in their line of vision, phone interviews do have their downsides.
“The tough part is that because (the interview) is not in person, the interviewers have nothing but what actually comes out of your mouth to go off of. You can’t rely on your perfect interview outfit or your firm handshake. You have to be very aware of what you’re actually saying, which makes the research part that much more important,” she explained.
So what will employers be looking for? Essentially the same things they would be looking for in an in-person interview: your level of organization and preparedness, your ability to maintain a professional phone conversation, your demonstration that your skills fit well into the position and that you have addressed any weaknesses and how you are improving them, said Wright.
Skype interviews should be treated as an in-person interview. Dress appropriately. Yes, you should still wear nice pants even though the interviewer won’t see them – you will carry yourself more professionally that way. Also, ensure your surroundings are appropriate. A blank wall is likely the best choice so the interviewers pay attention to you and not your wall devoted to Justin Bieber. Whereas you could have cheat sheets in a phone interview, it’s best to avoid most outside resources. The interviewer will be able to tell if you’re browsing their website while chatting with them, said Fraser. But having your resume out is appropriate.
For the most part, the interviewer will indicate the closing of the interview, usually by asking if you have any questions. Make sure you do and that they focus on the company’s short- and long-term goals, not potential vacation time.
When the interview is coming to an end, feel free to bring up the next steps regarding the interview process, said Wright. Don’t be afraid of appearing pushy. By politely asking when you can expect to hear from the employer or what you should prepare for next, “it shows engagement, enthusiasm and accountability on your part,” she said.
Any type of interview will feel a bit awkward and stressful, so the best plan of attack is to take care of all the aspects you can control.
“Be prepared and be comfortable,” said Fraser.