Take a stand One small change that can make a big difference during a phone interview is your posture. If you’re laid back on a couch or slumped down in an office chair, you risk coming off as nonchalant and lacking energy. Top companies now recommend standing during phone interviews to make sure your voice projects and you convey a tone of being in control. Make sure you are still in a position where you can reference your notes, resume or portfolio easily like a standing desk or at a taller counter. Also, be sure you’re not pacing back and forth during the call. This will make you come across as anxious or nervous.
Act like you’re face-to-face If you’re conducting a phone interview, try to create a real interview environment. Most companies recommend dressing like you’re going in for an in-person interview to get in the right mindset, but even some smaller adjustments will make you more comfortable during the process. Use a speakerphone so you can speak with your hands and not worry about dropping a headset. Refer to notes, but be sure you’re not shuffling papers or reading your experience from your resume – trust us, interviewers can tell. Finally, don’t conduct the interview from your car while driving or from your current employer if you’re looking to change jobs. When you’re distracted, it will make you seem less passionate, engaged and prepared.
Treat all interviews equally. For executive level interviews, you might find yourself meeting with colleagues who would be on your level and even direct reports in addition to upper management. Make sure you keep focused during those interviews and treat them professionally, just like you would with a supervisor. It can be a natural reaction to be more casual around your peers or more authoritative around your subordinates, but it’s likely that all of these individuals will be asked to weigh in on your fit for the role, so make sure to stay professional, stay courteous, and be consistent with your information and approach.
Round out your skillset. There are hundreds of online courses available from Oxford, Harvard ManageMentor and others through iTunes or their own subscription service. Most of these take just a few hours to complete and can help round out any knowledge gaps on your resume before an interview. Look at keywords in the job posting and search for online courses that address them. Then complete the courses and talk about the training if the topic comes up. This will show that you are willing to go the extra mile, educate yourself on topics important to your position, and open to continuing education once you’re on the job.
Read. Then read more. Of course you’ll do research on the company before your interview, but it shouldn’t stop there. Come prepared with what the company says about itself, what the industry says about them, what their competition is doing, and industry news and advances. The company you’re interviewing with is full of people that know what they do. That information alone will make you seem prepared, but not an asset. When you come to the interview looking and sounding like an expert in your field, it will take you much farther than just knowing a mission statement.
Plan for no. ‘’The first thing to decide before walking into any negotiation is what to do if the other fellow says no.” This is a famous quote by British statesman Ernest Bevin and it’s just as applicable to job interviews as it is for negotiations. Plan what your next move would be if you don’t get the job. Don’t expect a no, but plan for one. This will make you more confident and comfortable in the interview. Of course you want the position, but acting like you need it can make you seem like a less desirable candidate and put you in a poor position when negotiating salary and benefits.
Talk with someone on your level If you really want to know what it will be like to work in a department, ask if you can speak with someone at your level when you come in for the interview. This will give you insight into management tactics, workloads and introduce you to one of your potential coworkers. Hiring managers likely have conducted multiple interviews and have standard answers to common candidate questions, but a potential colleague would simply answer your questions honestly and openly. When you’re trying to determine an interview time and discussing whom you will speak with, don’t be afraid to request some time with someone on your level. Most employers will be happy to accommodate, and if they won’t, their reasons why could also be revealing.
Set up scenarios In interviews, you’ll often be given scenarios and asked how you’d react in certain situations. Don’t be afraid to set up your own scenarios to see how management would react to determine the culture and environment you’ll be joining. Ask about a real-life scenario, such as “If I have to schedule a doctor’s appointment during the day, is that something that would require submitting time off?” The answer will tell you whether you’re joining a more relaxed environment or one that is very structured. Depending on your preference for a work environment, the answer could reveal if this is a team you’d like to join.
Know what you’re looking for A lot of potential employees like to hear about team retreats and activities as part of a company’s culture, but when you’re in an interview, be realistic about what kind of environment you want to be a part of. If you have family obligations or small children, you might want to look for a company that does their team building during office hours only. A good team doesn’t have to spend time together outside of work to have camaraderie. And if you join a department that does a lot of team building on weekends or after hours, you risk alienating yourself if you don’t take part. Make sure the team you’re joining is the right fit for you, not just the one that seems like they have the most fun culture.
Be specific When you’re asking about culture in an interview, be specific about timing with your questions. Ask what the team has done together in the past month, instead of leaving the timeframe open-ended. If you ask “What does the team do together outside of the office,” you risk hearing about a retreat they did years ago or about the company’s past culture instead of their current one. A few new employees or changing workloads can quickly and easily influence the culture of a smaller company, so make sure you’re getting current information on the team you’ll be joining instead of hearing about “the good old days.”