Phone interviews are commonly used by employers as a preliminary screening method to narrow down potential candidates for a position. While phone interviews are convenient, they lack the intimacy an in-person interview provides. Many people feel nervous about speaking to a potential employer over the phone because they can't see how the hiring manager is physically responding to their answers. Since a phone interview is your chance to make a positive first impression, it's essential that you avoid sounding nervous and maintain a professional tone.
As soon as you know when the phone interview will take place, spend some time practicing with your spouse, a family member or a friend. Research commonly asked interview questions and have the person you're practicing with ask you each question. Answer as you would if you were speaking to a potential employer. While it's impossible to predict exactly what questions you'll be asked, having answers for a variety of questions will boost your confidence and ensure that you're as prepared as possible for the real phone interview.
Before you pick up the phone and the interview begins, set yourself up in a quiet environment with as few distractions as possible. Try to schedule the interview for a time you know you won't be interrupted by family members or friends, and place yourself in a room alone. Even the smallest distraction can take your focus off what the interviewer is saying and cause you to stumble on your words and tense up. Focusing on one thing at a time -- in this instance, what is being said on the phone -- will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and nervous during the course of the interview.
Have Your Resume Handy
While you're on the phone with a potential employer, keep a copy of your resume in front of you at all times. Your resume will help you formulate answers to questions, and you'll have an easier time keeping the conversation going. During a phone interview, it's easy to forget to mention the awards you earned in college or the accolades you were given in your last job, for instance. It's also easy to freeze up when asked a question you might not immediately have an answer to off the top of your head. Scanning your resume throughout the phone interview will help you feel -- and sound -- less nervous as you'll have visual cues to prompt you in your answers regarding your experience, skills and education.
During a phone interview, the person on the other end of the line can't see you, which offers both advantages and disadvantages. While phone interviews provide no face-to-face interaction and thus, prevent you from reading the body language and facial cues of the interviewer, they allow you to relax and make yourself as comfortable as possible since you'll be in the privacy of your own home. There's no need to don a three-piece suit the interviewer will never see, so wear clothing that is comfortable and makes you feel at ease. The more relaxed you feel in your environment, the less tense and nervous you'll sound. Remind yourself to smile as you speak even if the interviewer can't see it -- he can hear the smile in your voice and it will make your tone sound friendlier and more confident.
Think Through Your Answers
Phone calls are a quick and efficient method of communication, and people are often so accustomed to short conversations that they often rush through their words without even realizing it. Speaking quickly will give away your nervousness immediately, and could make a negative impression on the interviewer. Be conscious of your speech and take time to think through your answers before you speak. It's better to allow a two-second lapse in conversation and provide a well constructed answer than to rush through and give a half-hearted reply.