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How to Prepare for Phone Screening vs Face-to-Face Interviews

January 12th, 2012

If most of us had to choose between a face-to-face interview and a phone screening, we’d probably consider the in-person interview a little more nerve-wracking. After all, real world interviews involve countless tiny details that can easily escape our control, from a loose thread on our hem to the beads of visible sweat we’d do anything to send into a parallel dimension. Phone conversations, by comparison, edit out every part of our persona that can’t be expressed through the voice. But does this actually make things easier? Or does it simply mean that all of our qualifications, our years of experience, our warmth, our manners, and our confidence all have to be conveyed somehow through a set of tiny speakers?

Yes and yes. Phone interviews are easier. But candidates still need to take the phone call seriously and get around, rather than hide behind, its limitations. Here’s how.

First, prepare. Expect the same tough questions you’d hear in a face-to-face interview. You probably won’t hear these questions, since most phone interviews are simple, general screenings designed to weed out obviously inappropriate candidates. But just in case, be ready. Know how to talk about your background, discuss your future goals, and address your potential weaknesses with confidence and grace. And feel free to write things down. The phone makes it easier for you to take notes and refer to them gracefully.

Second, remember that facial expressions won’t play a role. So your voice will need to tell the interviewer that you’re listening and engaged. Don’t sit down during the call. Stand up, and try not to pace. Smile as you greet the interviewer. A smile can be felt over the phone.

Finally, don’t be afraid of conversational pauses. Your listener can’t see your face, but you can’t see hers either, and this may exaggerate pauses and make them feel longer and more awkward than they actually are. Don’t be rattled. Take a breath and wait for a full second before you answer a question, just as you would in person. Your interviewer is in no hurry, and she’s interested in what you have to say.

For both phone and in-person interviews, try not to fidget, and as always, think before you speak. For additional interview tips and guidance with your job search, contact a staffing agency in Fairfield County at Merritt Staffing and talk to our employment experts.

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