I have a friend who is the pastor of a large African American church.  He said one of the most important – and challenging – aspects of being a pastor is his weekly sermon.  A good sermon is the basis for a good week ministering to the flock. 

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He said the time he spends giving his sermons on Sunday morning are wonderful because he receives immediate feedback. 

The Church Ladies and Their Hats

“In many African American churches, including mine,” he explained, “women wear hats to morning worship.  This is part of the heritage of African American churches.   This actually helps me with the feedback.

“If I look out and the hats are moving up and down, then I know I am on solid ground, that my sermon is being well received.  But if those hats start moving side to side, I know come Monday there will be trouble in paradise.”

Receiving feedback is a very good thing, even if  sometimes it is not actually what we want to hear.   But if you are looking for a job, you know that getting feedback can be illusive. 

Illusive Feedback

That is certainly the case in the telephone interview.  If you are sitting across the table from a prospective employer, you can get a sense if what you are saying is resonating with them.  But that is not so with a telephone interview, one of the most challenging elements of the candidate screening process.  You are trying to connect with the person on the other end of the phone and most of the time you have no idea if you have been successful.

Based on my experience with this medium, being interviewed and conducting interviews, here are some things you should consider:

  1.  Understand your value – Have your value brand statement committed to heart and be ready to use bits and pieces of that statement to answer questions. 
  2. Be prepared for the easy questions – Most of the questions you are asked will focus on subjects you have dealt with in other interviews,  such as why are you interested in making a change, why  did you leave your last position, what are your strengths, perhaps even a question about your weaknesses.  Another common question is to describe your biggest success.  You may be asked about how you would approach the position you are applying for.
  3. Be brief with your responses – Listen carefully to the question, give your response but be brief. That is why you MUST be prepared.  You should think about how you will answer the easy and obvious questions.  Most of the time these interviews last 30 to 40 minutes. Not getting through the interviewer’s list of questions can be a negative against you.   
  4. Dress for work – Wear an outfit you feel confident in. How you are dressed and where you conduct the interview will impact your “audio presence”. Stand or sit at your desk. Nestled into your recliner or wearing your night gown will affect your tone and level of confidence.
  5. Check your smile – Are you smiling?  This, along with how you are dressed, whether you sitting or standing, does impact your performance, your telephone presence. 

Get Acquainted With the Interviewer Before the Call

BONUS TIP: Before the interview, look up the interviewer on LinkedIn.  More than likely they will be there.  Enlarge their photo, print it and place it in front of you.  Look at that photo throughout the interview.  Remember you are talking to that individual, not some unknown voice. Make it personal.  Connect. Sell.