Phone interviews: not for the unprepared

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Photo credit: Gabi Campbell, Photo Editor, @gabicampbellphotos


A phone interview can be a stressful experience for job and internship seekers, but it’s important to be prepared so that employers are persuaded to schedule a second, in-person interview.

Phone interviews are similar to traditional interviews but the goal is different. Tyler Nelson, Employer Relations Manager at UVU, said, “Resumes are built to get you an interview, interviews are to get the job, but the goal of a phone interview is to sit down in-person with an employer.”

Because of the unfamiliarity of phone interviews among UVU students like Mikka Vallace, who wouldn’t begin to know what to say, there are considerable possibilities for being rejected by employers.

Though interviews over the phone are most likely planned for a certain date and time, they can come unexpectedly.

“I was at dinner with my family when they called,” said Katie Parker, a sophomore at UVU, “So I was all frazzled. It was the worst interview ever.”

The hardest part for Parker was that neither party could receive social cues.

UVU conducts phone interviews for programs like The Center for the Advancement of Leadership when selecting students for scholarships. Junior, Keilara McCormick was fearful her personality wouldn’t get across and she “felt intimidated” because she didn’t know what the person looked like on the phone.

In order to ease some of the concerns UVU students have about phone interviews the Director of the Career Development Center, Michael Snapp, gave his top tips.

Snapp said, “Once you apply for a job you need to be ready with a solid Elevator Pitch or a ‘Me in 30 Seconds.’” Examples can be found on in the playlist for videos.

Request Skype instead of a phone interview, “It’s becoming outdated,” said Snapp. If that isn’t possible, take it as seriously as you would an in-person interview. “A lot of people think that it is a time to multitask,” said Snapp, “I’ve heard elevators and people clipping their nails; sit down.” Snapp also suggests putting a “do not disturb” sign on your door so that your doorbell doesn’t ring if you’re home.

Nelson recommends asking to put the interviewer on hold for just a moment so that you can get somewhere with no distractions or background noise.

It’s important to, “dress up professionally and sit somewhere that you can have all of your documents in front of you,” said Snapp, “things like your resume, a cheat sheet of notes, and any other documents you may need.”

Both Nelson and Snapp couldn’t reiterate enough that you shouldn’t ramble. “Be as concise as possible while still being conversational,” said Nelson. “Keep a clock close by. Slow down when you speak, and allow them time to break in,” said Snapp.

Because technology isn’t always reliable, “have a back-up plan. A land line is always better than a cell phone,” said Snapp.

When closing your interview, Snapp said to ask questions and to “be sure to have them clarify any points. Restate your appreciation, interest in the position, and your qualifications. Always thank them for their time and consideration. You have to close with an exclamation point.”

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