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The novel coronavirus ‘COVID-19’ has rapidly impacted all aspects of our lives – both private and professional – and brought with it both fear and uncertainty. HR is no exception, with disrupted labour markets, recruitment processes and how interviews are coordinated. Thus, traditional face-to-face interviews are being replaced with telephone interviews. If you have not been interviewed by telephone before, this can be a daunting experience. However, with a little preparation and knowledge, you can overcome this challenge, transforming your interview into a job offer.

But before I go on, I would like to extend heartfelt wishes to everyone who has been affected directly or indirectly by this pandemic and offer deep gratitude to all the women and men who have responded to the urgent call to action to support efforts towards addressing the impact of COVID-19. The ever-increasing death toll, particularly in Italy, USA, Iran, China and Spain is deeply heart-breaking for all us, globally. I laud the courageous workforce on the frontline during this global emergency, particularly health professionals, health emergency consultants, health project coordinators, data analysts, information management consultants, as well as crisis responders, who are working tirelessly to ensure our safety and promote our health.

Social distancing

As organizations continue to embrace distributed work practices in order to flatten the curve through social distancing, chances are that if you are short-listed, you will be interviewed virtually, via telephone. If you have been invited to attend a telephone interview and feeling anxious about the process, this article is for you.

I am delighted to share ten practical tips and a bonus TOP TIP to help you navigate the interview process but before I do, let me unpack a thought-provoking fact. Communication scientists postulate that 55% of our communication is how we look- body language, 38% is tone and voice and only 7% encompasses the words we actually say.

Image source: science communication

With this data in mind, it is evident that saying the right words during a telephone interview can make or break it for you. Therefore, experts encourage us to use compelling and positive words during a telephone interview.

You see, telephone interviews are just as important as face-to-face interviews and because your interview panel can only hear your voice, making the right first impression is even more vital.

Time For Those Ten Tips!

These tips are not arranged in any specific order but be sure to utilize it in its entirety for maximum efficacy. Treat the interview as a professional conversation and not an interrogation to ease anxiety jitters. Besides, a job interview is simply a process to screen out applicants and a check for candidate suitability. Let us now break down the tips!

Tip #1 Clean the room before you are interviewed as though it were a video interview.

Tip #2 Dress for success! In order to feel inspired and business ready, prepare as though you were attending a face to face interview.

Tip #3 Be on time! Punctuality is always key. Answer your phone not more than 3 rings later.

Tip #4 Have a bottle of water ready to help moisten your throat and lips. But avoid drinking in between speaking. Consider switching off your mic while you drink.

Tip #5 Use the bathroom before the start of the interview. Whatever you do, do not use the bathroom during a telephone interview.

Tip #6 Location! Location! Location! Interview from a quiet room, preferably with no one around you to avoid noise and feedback. Ensure that you use a headset with a working mic to boost the connection.

Tip #7 Speak into the mouthpiece. Avoid using the speaker phone function at all costs. To enhance the sound and tone of your voice, stand up during the entire interview- do not pace. Standing promotes positive airflow flow through the throat and larynx.

Tip # 8 Use a DO NOT DISTURB sign or lock the door and let others know that you need  total silence, especially if you are taking the interview call from home.

Tip #9 Power pose. Your body language shapes who you are so use your non-verbal cues as you would in a face-to-face interview. Stand with your feet apart and your hands on your hips to enhance your confidence level. This helps you to manage stress by increasing your testosterone and decreasing the bad cortisol levels. Watch this video your body language shapes who you are for details.

Tip #10 Speak with just the right amount of enthusiasm and use positive energy. Limit the number of um’s that you use. As a matter of fact, a very good friend of mine recommends dropping the ‘m’ in um and use ‘uh’ instead if you must.

Bonus top tip: Take agency by practicing with a friend, colleague or career coach as part of essential mock interviewing! Mock interviews are great to give you the impetus you need to feel ready, confident and prepared for you next job interview. Like a green plant in spring, let your interview ‘unfurl toward the light’, giving you the opportunity to shine.

If you are aspire to become employed by a United Nations agency, have a look at their practical tips on handling behavioural interview: Useful tips for your interview and apply the ten telephone interviewing tips if interviewed by telephone.

I wish you a delightful and stress-free interview and would love to hear from you. What other tips do you think should be added to this list that have worked for you? Add your comment below.

Stay safe,