More and more companies and recruiters are using phone interviews for initial candidate screening. They find it to be an effective and efficient strategy. This is now commonplace for positions ranging from entry level to C-level executive. As such, it is imperative that you learn how to master the phone screening.
The rules for doing well over the phone are a little different than for the in-person interview. The success model I draw on is the customer service industry where phone communication is the the norm. Did you know that call centers have mirrors in each cubicle? Is it to make sure the employees are well groomed? No! It is to make sure they use this secret approach to winning in phone communication.
And what is that?
It is the S M I L E !! Yes, look at the image that accompanies this article. The young woman has a bright smile. We perceive her smile through her voice. Test it out for yourself. When you smile, even though you cannot be seen by the caller, your voice has more energy, and that energy is perceived and felt by the listener.
We subconsciously smile back at her and feel positively inclined toward her. We feel more open, trusting and likely to want to relate with her. Imagine she is holding a neutral expression or even a frown. Would you feel as good about her? Probably not.
Research shows that when people are smiling they naturally speak in a way that attracts others. They sound happier, lighter, more accessible and much friendlier. We feel a positive rapport with them and we want to hear more.
To ace the phone screen:
USE A MIRROR: Set up your phone location where you can see yourself in a mirror. Practice that smile. And use it. The person on the other end of the call will naturally feel more comfortable with you, perceive you as more friendly and team oriented, and feel more inclined to spent more time with you in conversation. Some job applicants actually go into the restroom and use the mirror there. Do what you can to prevent interruptions.
Other important ways to prepare for a phone interview include:
* Read and study the job description and prepare good reasons for why you’re a strong fit for the position.
* Research the company and show you understand the industry, services and or products. Develop thoughtful questions to convey intelligence and interest in the job.
Most importantly, SMILE, and you will create positive rapport at the outset, and increase the odds you’ll be asked back for a live interview.
FYI, this topic was prompted by a recent email from a client:
“Joan, perhaps one of the best tips you ever gave me was to smile in a mirror when receiving an interview screening call. This trick has worked for me time and time again. My conversation naturally becomes lighter and more personal. You can hear the Screener put immediately at ease. Rarely am I not forwarded enthusiastically to the next step.”