This post was inspired by several comments triggered by a thread in the Latinos in College Facebook page. The big take away: phone interviewing requires a different set of skills than in person interviewing. So, let's cut to the chase, shall we?
Getting ready for a phone interview follows the same process as an in-person interview: Your goal is to come across as being the best candidate for the job and to be invited for a second interview. The main difference between a phone and an in-person interview is how the applicant and the interviewer engage in the process. In a phone interview, your voice is the way the interviewer will get to know you and decide if you should move to the next level.
Most of us are very conscious of how we sound. We think we sound too childish or husky or our accent is too strong. One way to get ready for a phone interview is by practicing on the phone. You could leave a voice message for yourself or someone else and replay to hear how it sounds. If you are not happy with what you hear, do not despair. Spend time listening to the news on TV or radio and imitate the pace and pronunciation of the reporters. Focus on channels related to your area of interest (business, health, education), so you can practice the words used in your industry. Another way is to warm up your vocals chords by humming. Yes, humming is the secret weapon of professional speakers. It is easy to do and it's free! If you practice these two techniques often, you will gain confidence in how you sound and present yourself on the phone.
Another factor to keep in mind when interviewing on the phone is the length of your responses. Pause yourself when answering questions. Do not ramble on. Give the interviewer a chance to ask a follow up question. If you talk non stop, you will sound nervous and will appear that you are trying to make up for what you do not know. Answer questions in two to three sentences. If you have more to say, you could ask,"would you like me to elaborate?" and wait for the interviewer's answer.
And lastly...remember to smile while you are on the phone (as several Facebook friends mentioned). Believe or not it will make a difference!
Anna Giraldo-Kerr is an award-winning writer and career coach who blogs at the Latinos in College website.