How Not to Blow a Phone Interview

{flickr photo by: stevendepolo}

The Dreaded Phone Interview

The time is ticking and you’re about to chew every single one of your fingernails in anticipation of that upcoming phone call. It could be a call to your editor, potential client or for a job interview. But whoever it is and whatever it is for, one thing is certain.

Talking on the phone is a whole different medium than in person or via email. To be honest, I would prefer both over the dreaded phone call.

In emails, my words come out effortlessly. There are no “uh” or “um” in writing and if they were I could easily hit delete.

In person, my body language, smiling, hand shaking, open arms, creates a warm friendly approachable appearance whereas my nervous voice does not.

There is no taking back silly, incoherent verbiage once it leaves my mouth. There is no way to press rewind or pause once the words scramble nervously out of my mouth.

Are you like me? Do you feel jumbled and out of sorts when making that call? So what do we do?

I found this article Prof-Hacking the Phone Interview by Erin Templeton, which includes important tips I wish I read before my last interview.

Tips for a Better Phone Interview

In addition to things like finding a quiet spot, dressing as if you were on an in-person interview, Templeton also advises us to practice talking on the phone with a friend and also to look up a photo of the person who you will be interviewing or who will be interviewing you and then talk to that image. It’s less intimidating to speak face-to-face with someone than a scary invisible man on the other side of the phone.

Recently, I interviewed a source for an article I’m working on. What helped me calm my nerves was to focus on the moment. When I put the attention off of my fears and onto what the person was I saying, I was much more attentive and less anxious. I also tried to think of the interview as a conversation and it helped!

And what if you did all of that and still feel bad about how you did?

Templeton says to not beat yourself up and to celebrate the fact that you even got to the phone interview process.

And I would say if you called an editor and you felt embarrased or nervous, at least you did it. You will be that much better the next time you have to do it.

A decade ago, I held two different jobs that forced me to call hundreds of people. As a research assistant, I had to cold call participants and recruit them for a study. As a loan executive, I had to inspire others to donate money. Talk about uncomfortable! This was one of the hardest things I ever did. But I had no choice so I just did it. I realized after the 50 or so caller, it didn’t matter how I felt about the process, what matter was my passion for what I was doing. I used that passion to successfully increase our participant and donor rates and to not personalize and dwell on the ones who weren’t interested. It is something I’m still very proud of.

If you have done a recent phone interview and failed, this post Why You Failed Our Phone Interview: The Harsh Truth may help.

But take heart. Sometimes you failed because it wasn’t the right fit. Maybe your lack of passion and enthusiasm is due to the fact that this job didn’t seem right for you. Maybe an editor was not happy about your idea. Maybe they rejected your query. Whatever it is, you will get through it.

This is all a part of the process. The ones who get up faster from failure are the ones who will be first one on the road to success!

What about you?

What tips have helped you ace a job interview?