Dear Employment Specialist:
I applied for an Office Manager position in a medical clinic two weeks ago, and just got an email, with a date scheduled for a phone interview. I have never done an interview like that and am nervous because I have an accent and am worried that the employer won’t want to interview me in person if they hear me before they get to meet me.
What can I do to prepare for a telephone interview?
Signed: Worried About My Accent
It has become very common for employers to pre-screen employees on the telephone before inviting a select few to the interview. That can be particularly difficult for job seekers for whom English is a Second Language, who might not feel confident about their language or who worry that they have an accent that is hard to understand.
Remember that this step in the process is meant to help the employer choose the best candidates for in-person interviews. They have your resume, and based on it, have determined that you might be a suitable candidate. This interview is an opportunity for them to hear your voice and assess your credibility. This won’t be a long interview, nor will it be in depth.
Here are some things you can do to prepare for the interview. Prepare the following for the interview:
Have a folder ready with the necessary documents:
Have the original job posting and the application you sent for the position, including your cover letter and resume. Print out some of the research you have done about the company. Have a pad of note paper and a pen (or two, in case one doesn’t work) ready.
Find a quiet, focused place for the phone call:
Select a space where you can talk freely on a clear telephone line. Make sure that it is a place where there are no distractions or noises. Stay away from public spaces such as coffee shops, or even your busy living room at home.
Prepare what you are going to say and practice:
Make sure you remember how you found the position and know it well enough to describe why you are a good candidate for this particular job. Chances are that you will be asked questions such as:
- Tell me about yourself – this is a chance for you to tell the interviewer what you want them to know about you. Review the job posting, as well as your cover letter and resume and pick out 5-6 important points about yourself that you would impress the interviewer
- How did you hear about this position? — make sure you remember where you found out about the position. If you were recommended to the position by someone that the employer knows, don’t forget to mention that.
- Why do you think that you are a good candidate for this position? – think of the unique assets that you bring to this specific position – your relevant experience, skills and personal characteristics. Learn something about the company/job, if you can, and be ready to discuss what you can contribute (for example, mention how your values match with those they mention on their website), and practice describing them.
- Do you know… ? – the employer might want to clarify your knowledge of a particular software, language or knowledge of something such as specific legislation that is required for the position. Be ready to discuss these in detail.
During the interview
- Dress the part – though the interviewer can’t see you, dressing up might help you get into the role and sound more professional.
- If you can, sit at a desk with all your notes within easy reach.
- Breath and smile – employers can hear your smile.
- Speak clearly – project your voice, speak loudly and slowly. Annunciate your words properly, so you are easy to understand.
- Be assertive – if you don’t understand or can’t hear what is said, ask the interviewer to repeat or explain themselves. If you need time to think of an answer, ask for a moment to think about how to answer the question.
- Answer the phone quickly and clearly – identify yourself: “hello, this is Karin speaking.”
If you are prepared, and are able to sound confident, it can be quite easy to be successful at a telephone interview.
Your JVS Toronto Employment Specialist