There's plenty of advice on how to perform well in a telephone interview: Find a quiet environment, smile so you sound pleasant and stand up so your voice projects. But few resources describe the signs of a successful telephone interview, observes Margaret Fisher, president of Fisher Group Solutions, a company that provides business development and management solutions to several organizations. While many of the signs aren't so subtle, if you don't know about them beforehand you could overlook them as your focus is on giving the right answers to the interview questions.
Employers sometimes spring notice of a telephone interview on job seekers without enough time to research the organization or practice responding to interview questions. If you're fortunate to have at least a few days before your telephone interview, you can spend sufficient time preparing for it. On the other hand, if you must prepare for an interview on short notice, try to pack in as much research as possible learning about the job, the company and even the hiring manager if you can find an online profile. If you believe that you invested enough time preparing, even before your telephone interview begins, you'll have the confidence to know that it'll go well.
Gaining poise during the preparation stages can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, believing that you're going to have a successful interview will enable you to provide well thought-out answers to the interview questions and ensure that you'll make a good impression on the recruiter or hiring manager.
Was There Agreement?
"Listen for evidence of support or signs of agreement and affirmation," says Fisher, a certified professional coach and consultant in the Washington, D.C. area, who works with public and private sector employers on workforce and leadership development. Neither you nor the interviewer can tell if you're nodding in agreement with the discussion points, but you can tell if the interviewer understands and agrees with your responses. For example, if the interviewer says, "What a great question," when you ask about the timing of performance evaluations, that's a sign that she acknowledges that your query is insightful. Likewise, if you find yourself nodding when you hear about the job duties and it sounds like the ideal role for you, that's a sign the interview is going well.
Was It a Dialogue or an Inquisition?
Ideally, an interview is a two-way conversation. It's as much about the hiring manager asking questions and sharing information about the company as it is you learning enough about the position and your potential boss to determine if you want to work for the organization. But when the interview becomes an actual dialogue, that's a good sign because it's a give-and-take conversation instead of a one-sided inquisition.
Fisher makes a salient point about interviews turning a point where you feel comfortable about your chances for a face-to-face interview and, ultimately, a job offer. "When the interviewer volunteers details about the hiring process, indicates when she will get back in touch with you and provides information about salary and benefits, that's likely when you turned the corner from applicant to hot prospect," she says.
If the telephone interview turns out to be longer than you anticipated, that's usually a good sign that the interviewer is enjoying the conversation and is interested in learning more about you. "When a telephone interview that was scheduled to be 20 minutes turns into a 45-minute conversation, you're on the path to becoming a short-listed candidate," Fisher says. The more time an interviewer spends inquiring about your qualifications, the more likely you are to become a frontrunner in the selection process.