(ARA) - When employers advertise an open position, they receive a mountain of resumes. As a result, many are turning to telephone interviews to screen applicants. If you're one of the 13.5 million Americans looking for a job, it pays to plan in advance for the prospect of interviewing over the phone. Telephone screening saves a lot of time.
Paula M. Scott, director of Career Services at Brown Mackie College - Michigan City
, shares advice she uses to prepare students for successful phone interviews with prospective employers. "The phone interview is a screening tool that helps employers narrow down the number of applicants," says Scott. "It's important to give a 100 percent effort because the next step - a face-to-face interview - depends on it."
In an April Economic News Release
, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports some job gains in professional and business services, health care, leisure and hospitality and mining. Still, the unemployment rate hovers at 8.8 percent, and applicants face hefty competition in the marketplace.
What do you sound like on the phone?
Scott and her staff regularly prepare students at Brown Mackie College - Michigan City for all aspects of a successful employment search
. "In a phone interview, the voice does it all," she says. "No one can see facial expressions or body language over the phone. The first step is to record yourself practicing answers to interview questions." Many of us don't realize how often we mumble or use "filler words," such as "um" and "like." Scott recommends cleaning up speech habits before a telephone interview. "Smile when you speak; it reflects in the tone of your voice."
"Dress for the interview," she says. "Don't laugh. People tend to feel and act more professional when dressed for work, and the voice reflects attitude. It also helps to stand rather than sit during the call. A job seeker's voice seems to better project when standing.
"Prepare like you would for a regular interview. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and plan to speak about accomplishments you want to share. Also, research the company who has taken interest in you," Scott says. She lists a wealth of tips for a successful phone interview, including:
Before the phone interview:
* Dress for the occasion
* Use a landline; a cell phone may drop the call or distort an applicant's voice
* Turn off call waiting; it's annoying
* No background noise; no TV, no music, no kids, no barking dogs
* Place your resume in front of you, along with the employment ad
* Keep a pen, paper and calculator on hand; take notes
During the phone interview:
* Ask the interviewer for the correct spelling of his/her name; verify the title
* Smile as you speak; the interviewer will hear it
* Stand as you speak; your voice will project better
* Speak slowly; enunciate words and use proper grammar
* Don't interrupt; it's not polite
* Don't ramble; make your answers brief
* Ask questions; this shows the interviewer you have interest in the job
* Thank the interviewer; it's good common sense
After the phone interview:
* Send a note of thanks; it shows gratitude and interest
* Send it within 24 hours; either email or regular mail is appropriate
Career Services departments at colleges and universities
interact regularly with professionals in the business community. Communication in both speech and writing are valuable business skills for employers. Since many employers are using the phone interview as a screening tool, it's important to remember that with a little thought and practice before a telephone interview, you can help ensure that a prospective employer will maintain interest in you.