Written by Thien Van Tran
It’s almost back-to-school time! I know most of you are still on vacation now, but it’s never a bad time brush up on your professional skills. The University of Miami has a very diverse student population originating from all over the world, which may make it very difficult for you to interview for positions back home or in other locations. That’s what makes the phone interview so attractive; it’s a simple solution that’s unaffected by distance. I have had numerous phone interviews throughout this previous semester, and I know that many of my peers have as well. Although I had very little experience as to how to conduct myself during a phone interview, I am very happy to say that I’ve just completed the first part of my internship for this summer using the very tips I am about to share! Once again, I understand that it is summer and you may think you have better things to do, but hey, writing these posts is very involved and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears time goes into them. My witty sense of humor has been known to induce knee-slapping laughs on rare occasions, and almost all the time. You know how many clever remarks I’ve written so far? “Five?” I was going to say three, but you’re trying to be nice to me on my big day, I get it.
The phone interview is much like a date. You want to convince your date that you’re the one he/she wants to take home to his/her parents. You want to look good. In fact, you want to look so good that when he/she does take you home, the parents are the ones who get nervous meeting you.
Phase 1: Research
You need to know what you’re up against. What are his/her hobbies? What does he/she like? As is the case with any interview, you will need to do a little research to know the company or organization. You can never know too much, and being well-informed will give the interviewer the impression that you are genuinely interested. You should obviously know the basic ideals of the company, its industry, projects, etc. If it becomes apparent to the interviewer that you are uninformed, not only will it be considered rude that you did not take the short time to educate yourself while they are putting forth the effort to speak and possibly hire you, it will look downright embarrassing.
Try to find something that really intrigues you. This may come up as a topic of dialogue, especially if they decide to ask you why you are eager to work for their company. If possible, you should also research the specific individual with whom you will be interviewing with. However, there is one minor difference here, between the date and the interview. You should not openly admit that you’ve done your research on her. Will telling her that you’ve stalked her on Facebook make you all the more irresistible? Not a chance. Creep her out? Every time.
Phase 2: The Date
Be punctual. No one likes waiting. Heck, I’ve yet to make a real batch of brownies. I’d rather have a warm chocolate soup than wait 35 minutes for brownies. Your interviewer will call you, whether or not you’re ready. Missing that first call will undoubtedly start things off on a terrible note. If it’s scheduled to begin extremely early in the morning, like 11:00AM or some other ridiculous time, be sure to wake up at least an hour prior. You don’t want to get caught off guard.
“I see you’ve set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public”
Since the interviewer(s) cannot see you, the only aspect upon which they may judge you is your voice. It should be enthusiastic, responsive, and show interest. It’s okay to be a little nervous, but just remember that you were chosen for a reason. Your merits and qualifications have been considered and you were deemed capable. The same goes for the date. She (or he) has decided to accept your invitation, so in the very least you must appear to be a good choice. So be yourself. Everyone else is taken.
Make sure you are in a quiet setting where you receive a strong wireless signal, if you are using a cellular device. I will admit that phone interviews may put you at a slight disadvantage compared to someone participating in a face-to-face interview. You cannot see your interviewer, and some people’s voices are so flat that trying to read them is like trying to decipher the expression of the Sphinx. But, there are also some advantages. For one, you do not have to dress up. Although, some people find that dressing professionally, even when the other person cannot see you, will be beneficial in the sense that it will get you in the right mindset, so you may want to do so anyway. If you are not very comfortable with eye contact, or are unsure of how much eyeball action you should give, you’re in luck! Also, if you are nervous about any material that may be asked of you regarding your resume, you may have that in front of you to use as a referernce. And, FUN FACT, if you bring in your resume to the Toppel Career Center, you will have access to many professonals who will be able to help you make it better by removing all of your words and replacing it with their own. Just kidding.
Phase 3: Wrapping it Up
When the interview is coming to a close, you will be offered a chance to ask questions, if you have any. You do. In the case with your hot date, you never want to appear self-centered and talk only about yourself. Many people love to talk about themselves, and all they need is a willing set of ears to get going. So ask her sincere questions of interest and let her open up. Going back to your potential employer, you may ask about the specific internship/job projections for the summer, or about any developments you may have heard of within the corporation, or other projects that are currently underway that you may be involved in. Just don’t say that you don’t have any questions, or that the interviewer has already answered them in previous statements, as this will make you appear indifferent. However, never ask a question for the sake of having one; like the (awful) movie Battleship, you will sound “incredibly dumb.” But hey, those are Rotten Tomatoes’ words, not mine. Although, mine would have been exactly the same.
Phase 4: The Waiting Game
When the questions are all done, be sure to thank your interviewer for his or her time. If you are interested, you may want to ask what their timeline looks like in regards to making a hiring decision. Try not to seem too pushy though. Be sure to send a ‘thank you’ letter / email to each interviewer. Now comes the hard part. Waiting for someone who may never call you back can be frustrating, and quite discouraging. Some companies will notify you almost immediately, while others will wait months to let you know. If it turns out that a few opportunities don’t work out the way you had hoped, don’t give up so easily. Keep scheduling those interviews while working to improve and it will pay off eventually. A wise man once said, “Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things.” Never have I heard truer words.
If she never calls you back, hey, there’s nothing you can do about it. From my own experience after the first date, people are either going to hate you, or they’re going to really dislike you. But in all seriousness, don’t let it get to you. “It is a risk to love. What if it doesn’t work out? Ah, but what if it does..?” – Peter McWilliams.