How to Nail Your Next Phone Interview, with Hannah Morgan

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host and publisher of Mac’s List. I’m joined by my co-host, Ben Forstag, our managing director, and Jenna Forstrom, our community manager. This week, we’re talking about how you can nail your next phone interview. Our show is brought to you by Hack the Hidden Job Market, the new online course from Mac’s List that starts November 1. As many as 8 out of 10 job openings never get advertised. Is your dream job one of them? Learn how to uncover hidden jobs and get noticed by the hiring managers who would fill them. Visit macslist.org/course.

  Have you ever answered the phone and suddenly found yourself talking to a human resource director about an application for a job? What you do and say next will determine whether or not you get invited to meet the hiring manager in person. Many applicants make common mistakes in these conversations. Later in the show, this week’s guest expert Hannah Morgan will tell you how to avoid these errors and nail your next phone interview.

  Do you hate the way you look on video? If so, you may wonder if you should ask an employer if you can do an audio-only phone interview instead of talking via Skype. In a moment, Ben Forstag will share a resource that discusses the ins and outs of Skype and audio-only phone interviews. This week, our listener question comes from Nathan Brennan. He asks, “How can you work best with a recruiter during salary negotiations?” Jenna Forstrom has the answer.

  As always though, let’s first check in with the Mac’s List team. Jenna, Ben, we’re talking this week about phone interviews. I’m curious. Do either one of you have a success or a horror story about a phone interview you’ve had that you’d like to share with our listeners?

Ben Forstag:

I’m not sure if this is a horror story as much as it’s just like a normal story from college, but I had a phone interview for my first serious internship, summer internship. I was doing it from the dorm rooms. At my university, we had those thin hollow core doors, and so every noise outside you could hear. There were clearly people partying in the hallway.

Mac Prichard:

Was this a Friday night in a dorm?

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, during spring break.

Mac Prichard:

Right.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah. No, I think it was normal business hours, but I remember several times apologizing and saying, “I’m sorry if you hear some external noise.” Evidently they weren’t that bothered, because I ended up getting the internship.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so what you’re telling us is your university did not rank high on the list of party schools.

Ben Forstag:

Yes.

Mac Prichard:

Okay.

Ben Forstag:

That’s what I’m saying, Mac.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. Jenna, how about you?

Jenna Forstrom:

I can’t think of a specific horror story. I do have a dog, and it’s a pit bull. I would like to say he has a smoker bark. He sounds way more terrifying. I’m just always nervous that that 30 minutes that I’m on the phone that he’ll bark for something, like he’ll see a squirrel or he’ll just lose his mind in some way, which is totally normal for him to do in our house. To do it while I’m on a phone would be absolutely terrifying. So far it hasn’t happened though.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. Fingers crossed. For me, I may have shared this story in an earlier podcast. I had an interview. It was 15 years ago, actually, for a position with a juvenile justice reform project, Reclaiming Futures. I’d done several in-person interviews. There was a final step I had to go through. It was a phone interview with people back on the East Coast who were funding the project. It was 2001. I was on vacation. I told the employer this. I was spending the day with my cousin who said, “Oh, no problem. I’ve got a cell phone.” In 2001, this meant that she had a plastic phone that looked like a hamburger. The audio was not great. We spent the day in Chicago. I thought, “Oh, I’ll just do it outside of the museum that we were visiting with her children.” Big mistake, because there seemed to be a helicopter parked directly above us. I made a couple of the common mistakes I think we’ll be hearing Hannah warn us against later in the show.

Ben Forstag:

So you shouldn’t do a phone interview while standing on Michigan Avenue.

Mac Prichard:

Probably not. You probably shouldn’t use your cousin’s cell phone that she may have gotten as a prize from McDonald’s. It probably would have been best to invest in using a landline, so know you wouldn’t have had any of those mistakes. Anyway, we’ll talk more with Hannah about that later in the show. Let’s turn to you though, Ben, and you’re out there every week searching the nooks and crannies of the internet trying to find websites, books, and other tools our listeners can use in their job search. What have you discovered for us this week?

Ben Forstag:

This week I want to talk about a blog post called, Can I Turn Down a Skype Interview and Suggest a Phone Call Instead? This comes from the Ask a Manager blog that’s managed by Alison Green.

Mac Prichard:

We’ve got Alison scheduled to come on the show in a couple of weeks.

Ben Forstag:

I know. I saw that. I saw that, Mac, and I know you’re really excited to have her on, because she’s one of the big names out there in career management. Alison’s blog is called askamanager.org. She takes questions from her readers. This question was from someone who had been invited to come in for a Skype interview and wanted to know whether they could do a phone call interview instead. The issue here was, first, feeling uncomfortable watching themselves and seeing someone on video, but also she had some concerns about the technology itself in terms of if you have a slow internet connection, there can be a lag, which is really, really bothersome. Even if it’s just like a half-second, you see people’s lips moving and nothing comes out for a little bit. Alison offered her suggestions there. First, I want to ask you guys. Would you rather do video where you get to see the person, or would you rather just do the phone thing?

Jenna Forstrom:

I think I would prefer video, just because then if you say something, you can get that encouraging nod or you can get the weird face and be like, “Okay, backpedal, backpedal, backpedal.” I think you get more human clues. Then it also makes when you meet them in person, you’re like, “I know who they are and what they look like,” rather than like, “Do you look like your LinkedIn profile on your tiny little screen?” I would go for a video personally.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. My instincts say audio-only, but I agree with Jenna. I think you benefit from doing a video interview, because I do find when I have those conversations via Skype and we’re using the video channel, there’s just a deeper connection. I think that works to your advantage in the job interview.

Ben Forstag:

I know in my experience, I tend to over talk when I’m on the phone because I can’t see the person’s facial expressions or get immediate affirmation of whether I’m on the right track. I just keep talking and talking and talking, whereas with Skype when you can see that the other person has something to say, you can shut up which is a really good skill to have, and let the other person start talking.

  Alison, like I said, she has several good suggestions here. She actually says it would be okay to make this request. You could couch it in, “I’m unsure about the technology, whether I have the right bandwidth to accommodate a Skype interview,” but she says you should always make sure that you’re accommodating around what the employer needs as well. You can make the request. You can’t demand it obviously. If the employer insists on having Skype even if you have bad internet connection, there’s some things you can do, like you can tone down some of the picture quality if you want.

  The other thing she said that I thought was really interesting was removing yourself, the view of yourself, while you’re talking, because a lot of people get distracted looking at themselves talking. If there’s a delay there, that can mess with your brain, and you say the wrong thing. When you look at yourself, it’s essentially like you’re talking in the mirror, and that always makes people anxious. Just get that screen away, and then it’s like a one-on-one conversation. She has a lot of good advice, and several other people commented on this. It’s definitely worth the read. Again, it’s from the Ask a Manager blog, and we will have the URL in the show notes.

Mac Prichard:

Thanks Ben. If you have a suggestion for Ben, please write him. We may share your idea on the show. His address is easy to remember. It’s ben, B-E-N, @macslist.org. Now, let’s turn to you, our listeners. Jenna Forstrom, our community manager, is here. She joins us to answer one of your questions. Jenna?

Jenna Forstrom:

Today’s question comes from Nathan Brennan.

Nathan Brennan:

Hi. This is Nathan Brennan from Orange County, California. My question to you is, is there a better way to respond to a salary rate that a recruiter presents to you without you, the job seeker, asking about salary on a first interview over the phone? Even you, the job seeker, did some salary research on glassdoor.com prior to the interview, and told the recruiter that you’d like to think over the salary compensation that they gave you for a couple days and get back with them to share what you feel is a good salary rate before they move on with next candidate after you completed a first interview with the recruiter. I’ll be happy to hear what your responses are for my question. Thanks and have a great day.

Jenna Forstrom:

Thanks for calling in, Nathan. Based on what you said, we’re interpreting this question as, a recruiter asks you what your salary range is, and you didn’t know right away, so you took some time to do some research on Glassdoor, which is awesome and we talk about it all the time as a great resource, and that now you want to reach back out to the recruiter and talk about compensation opportunities. You are kind of anxious because you didn’t have an answer right away, so now you’ve got an answer.

  I suggest reaching out in whatever form that you’ve been interacting with this recruiter. If you’ve talked on the phone, give them a call. If you’ve been emailing with her, shoot her an email. Just to follow up and say, “Hey, thanks for the time. I’ve done some research. It sounds like engineers in Topeka, Kansas make this amount of money. Based on my skill qualifications and years of experience, I’m expecting to make something similar.” Just use that opportunity to reach out and engage with the hiring manager or the recruiter as a way to just talk about your skill sets more, because they’ve already seen your resume. They’ve already talked to you or emailed with you, so you can just add more icing to the cake and talk about your strengths. How about Mac and Ben? Do you guys have any tips?

Ben Forstag:

I would just echo what you said, Jenna. First, I think it’s really good to take a step back and do some research before coming up with just an answer off the top of your head. I think that’s a whole lot more dangerous, even if it leads to an awkward discussion later on of talking about money again. I think the key here when you’re talking to recruiters or any hiring manager is just be open and direct. You can have a number in your head of what you want to make or expect to make. Let them know what that is. They’ll either counter it, or they’ll say, “Okay, that’s fine.” That’s the worst case scenario. I think the other key thing here is research and benchmarking your request and your expectation around what the market is saying in your area, given your skills, given your qualifications, given your years of experience.

Mac Prichard:

I agree with you, Ben and Jenna, and I commend you, Nathan, for doing the homework, because often people say yes to the first number they hear. Then later when they do some research, they discover that that’s not what the market is paying. You’re well-served, Nathan, by investing the time and finding out what the market is paying people in your profession and in your community. When you do that, you’ll come up with a range. The recruiter and the employer will respect the fact that you’re basing your request on the data and what their competitors are paying, not just on personal feelings. That is really going to carry the day.

Jenna Forstrom:

I think that’s a good point, Mac, how you’re talking about your qualifications and not so much your needs, because I feel like, at least with millennials and people my age, that we talk about like, “Oh, my mortgage is this much. My student loans are this much. My car loan is this much.” That does count. You need to make enough money to cover your budget, but it’s not really your future company’s fault that you have student loans or have a mortgage or have a loan on whatever kind of car that you’ve picked out. Just going with like, “I’ve got a degree. I have this many years of experience,” and speaking to that, which is an asset to your future company. That was a good point. Thanks. Thank you, Nathan, for calling us.

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. Thank you, Jenna, for answering that question. If you, our listeners, have a question for us, please email Jenna. Her address is easy to remember too. It’s jenna@macslist.org. Even better, call her listener line. That number is 716-JOB-TALK, 716-J-O-B-T-A-L-K. These segments with Ben and Jenna are sponsored by the Hack the Hidden Job Market, the new online course from Mac’s List.

  As many as 80% of all jobs never get posted. Instead, employers fill these openings by word of mouth. Our new course shows you how this hidden job market works. We’ll teach you how to find plum gigs that never appear on a job board, how to stand out online in a crowd of applicants, and how to connect with insiders who can help your career. In each of the course’s 12 modules, you get the tools and tips you need to get the work you want, meaningful work, work that makes a difference, work that you can love. Hack the Hidden Job Market launches November 1, but don’t wait. Get updates and lock in the early bird price now. Go to macslist.org/course.

  Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Hannah Morgan. Hannah Morgan is the founder of careersherpa.net. Her talks, blog posts, and books offer no nonsense, actionable advice to active and passive job seekers. Hannah also writes a weekly column for U.S. News & World Report, and is the author of The Infographic Resume published by McGraw-Hill Education. She joins us today from Rochester, New York. Hannah, thanks for being on the show.

Hannah Morgan:

Thanks so much, Mac. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s a pleasure to have you. Phone interviews, Hannah. Why do employers do phone interviews? Why don’t they just invite people in for face-to-face meetings?

Hannah Morgan:

Right. That would be very time-consuming. Part of what’s happening with phone interview, phone screening interview, is the recruiter or the person making that phone call is testing the skill level and many other things as they’re having that conversation with you, to get an idea of whether or not you meet the requirements for the job on a basic level. They’ve seen your resume, so they’re just fact-checking some of the things that you have said. Then they’re also trying to get a sense of your personality, how you communicate, what kind of a person you are. That’s all coming through during that phone conversation.

Mac Prichard:

What’s the best way people can prepare for a phone interview? What are your best tips there, Hannah?

Hannah Morgan:

Yeah. Sometimes these phone interviews come out of the blue, and oftentimes we don’t have a lot of time to prepare. As a matter of fact, let me just step back a step further, because oftentimes someone will be sitting at their computer, applying to jobs or whatever they’re doing, or maybe they’re at a networking event, and the phone will ring. It might be a recruiter asking if they can ask you a few questions about a job you’ve applied to. In that case, if you’re not at a place where it’s good to speak, if you’re traveling, commuting somewhere, or in a loud area, the best bet is for the candidate to ask to have that meeting deferred and make that phone call at another time, and find a convenient time to call the recruiter back.

  If you are fortunate enough to be able to, by email they’ve corresponded with you to set up a time to have a phone interview, then the best thing to do is to know everything that you can about the job posting. Review it up and down, up and down, and make sure that as you’re reviewing each requirement in the job, that you have an actual story, an example of a time, where you were successful doing that particular responsibility. If the job is “must be able to correspond with people in remote locations,” identify a time you were successful in doing that. Talk about the outcome and the success that you had doing that. Absolutely know the job description inside and out.

  The other thing that you want to do is spend some time researching the company. Obviously checking out their company website is a pretty straightforward thing to do. Read everything that you can. Find out what their products and services are, and who their customers are. You also might want to check out Glassdoor, which is an anonymous employee review site. You may also want to check and see if you know anybody who has or does work at that company, and give them a heads-up that you are going to be interviewing with that company and you’d love just to get a sense of what it’s like to work there. I would never say that there’s just 1 thing that you should do to research a company, though the more people you can talk to, the more research you can do, the more resources you can tap into to find out about the company, the better your perspective is going to be on what that company might be like and what’s important to them.

Mac Prichard:

As you talk, Hannah, you’re taking people through all the steps that you should probably follow for an in-person interview. I think you’re making a great point here, that sometimes I think people treat phone interviews as kind of casual. What I’m hearing you say is, “No, this is serious. You’ve got to prepare for it just as you would for an in-person meeting.”

Hannah Morgan:

Yeah, Mac. Thank you for making that point very plain and straightforward. The phone screen is going to determine whether or not you get invited for the in-person resume or in the in-person interview. It is really important. It’s that first impression, and the employer is using that to weed you either out or into the interview process.

Mac Prichard:

I also like your point, Hannah, that it’s okay to ask, if it’s not convenient, if you’re on the road or you’re with your family or at a social event, to ask, if the phone does ring, if you can call back later. I think that’s hard for people sometimes. I think they want to please employers, and their instinct is that’s going to hurt them if they ask for that.

Hannah Morgan:

Honestly, it’s not going to hurt them. I’ve talked a lot of recruiters about this. A lot of them prefer to reach out via phone, hoping they can catch you because it makes their life easier, and if they can get that phone call conducted and get the information, then it moves the process along faster, but absolutely, they understand that people have lives and they may not be able to take that call at that very minute. It really is the responsibility of the job seeker to make sure they ask for another convenient time to reach back out, so that burden does not fall on the recruiter, because the recruiter’s got a thousand phone calls that they’re making. It can be very overwhelming for them as well. Make it easy for the recruiter reaching out to you.

Mac Prichard:

Now, we know body language matters when you meet people in person. Tell us about the importance of the tone of voice, and what a difference it can make in a conversation like this.

Hannah Morgan:

Yeah. I think that what we’re doing right now is such a good reflection on the importance of the non-verbal body language that comes across when you’re speaking with somebody over the phone. One of the things that’s so important to do is to smile when you talk. Whether it’s an in-person interview or any kind of conversation that you’re having, when you smile when you speak, your voice will automatically, and I’m not a scientist in linguistics and voicing techniques, but if you read any of the experts, they always say to smile when you talk.

  As a matter of fact, when I worked in a call center making business-to-business telemarketing calls, we would put mirrors up in our cubicles, because that would help ensure that we were smiling when we were having a conversation. You come across more friendly, which sounds like such a trivial thing, but all the person on the other end of the phone has to evaluate you by is the quality and tone of your voice.

  I think the other thing that is important for somebody to pay attention to with their nonverbal, just like opera singers stand when they sing, and all great singers stand when they sing, it actually is easier for you to project and have a conversation when you are standing, because it’s easier for your diaphragm to move up and down, and et cetera, et cetera. If you are one who may come across as having low energy or a weak, soft voice, standing up can really enhance the quality of your voice and make it easier for you to speak in a strong voice.

  I think the other thing that happens oftentimes when we are on the phone with somebody, especially if it’s their cell phone, there can be that tendency to talk over somebody. I know I already did it to you once today.

Mac Prichard:

That’s okay.

Hannah Morgan:

Sometimes during the interview, you can get excited, and it may be possible for you to start talking before the person has actually finished their question. It’s okay to have a slight pause before you actually go and give your answer. It’s probably better that you do that. Not only does it allow you to get your thoughts together, but it makes sure that you aren’t speaking on top of somebody and you’ve heard their full question. I think those are the important things to remember, that just because you’re not there in person doesn’t mean that the quality of your voice … It actually means the quality of your voice is that much more important.

Mac Prichard:

Now you mentioned, Hannah, how smiling and standing can affect the quality of your voice and improve your prospects in a conversation like this. What about dress? Should people do this in their pajamas if they’re at home and it’s an audio-only call, or should they put on business attire?

Hannah Morgan:

I think that anybody generally feels more confident and feels better about themselves when they’re dressed up. There have been numerous studies that have evaluated how your dress affects your performance on the job. The studies have found that people who dress up tend to perform better. Whatever that little trick is, whatever you can do to give yourself the competitive advantage to feel great about yourself, to feel powerful and confident, I say do it. It’s sometimes easy to slouch around. We feel more comfortable, but I’m not sure comfortable is the right image that we’re going for. I want the job seekers that I’m working with to feel powerful and confident and really enthusiastic about the opportunity. While you could wear pajamas, I say wear a suit.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. Let’s talk a little more about preparation. You talked about research and having stories ready. What about questions? Should you have questions ready for the people who are interviewing you? What kind of questions do you suggest?

Hannah Morgan:

I really think it’s so important for job seekers to ask questions throughout the interview. Oftentimes, I think this goes back in time where people really treated any kind of an interview as an interrogation. In other words, I’m going to sit back and I’m going to take all of these questions that are being thrown across the desk at me. That really doesn’t make for a very good conversation. It makes you feel put on the defense rather than leveling the playing field. Job seekers can and should ask questions. I would suggest that they prepare those in advance.

  There’s certainly a stock set of questions that any job seeker of any job would want to know the answer to. Questions like, why is this position available, or what happened to the person who was in this position before? What are the most important things that you would expect somebody in this role to be able to accomplish in the first 30, 60, 90 days? Some people like to ask the question, what keeps you up at night as a manager of somebody in this role? I think there are lots of lists of questions out there. Certainly you won’t be able to ask them all, but if a job seeker were to think, “Okay, what questions do I need to know before I step into this role,” there are millions of things that you would want to know.

  Think about overall from the beginning in this early conversation, what information can you get that’s going to really help you determine what’s important for you to stress and highlight as you’re having a conversation with a person over the phone and in future interviews? Get an idea of what the culture is. In other words, is this going to be a good match? I think that that’s a really tough question for anybody to answer if you were to ask, what kind of culture would you define your company as having? I don’t think there’s really a list of different types of cultures out there.

  I think just as an employer would ask you a question, “Give me an example of a time when,” I think that that same logic could apply to asking the employer, “Give me an example of some of the employees who are top performers in your company or underneath you. What do they do that makes them top performers?” Or, “Can you give me an example of a time where you were leading a group and managing your team, and it didn’t work out the way you wanted?” Just to get a sense of what the culture is like, what their management style is like if you are speaking with the hiring manager.

  If you’re talking to human resources, obviously those questions would be not suitable for the HR person to manage. Always think about whom your audience is when you’re asking questions. HR will know a lot about the culture of the organization. Ask the HR person why they started working there and what they like most about working at that company. Absolutely, throughout the interview, I really hope that a job seeker could ask questions that are relevant to the person that they’re speaking with, and relevant to the types of questions they’re being asked.

Mac Prichard:

As we’ve talked about the importance of preparation and research, and then how you should conduct yourself during the interview and the questions you might bring to that conversation, what’s your advice, Hannah, about how to close that conversation? When you feel that it’s coming to an end, what do you see successful job seekers do in these kinds of phone interviews?

Hannah Morgan:

There are a couple of things. I’ll start with the easiest one. Most job seekers that I’ve worked with always ask the question when they’re talking with me and looking for advice, “Hannah, I had a phone interview yesterday. When should I follow up?” The question I always ask is, “I don’t know. What did they say when you asked them?” That is the most important question that you need, that any job seeker needs, to ask is, “What is your time frame for filling this role? What are the next steps in the process? When should I expect to hear from you?” If they’re asking those 3 questions at the end of every phone conversation, every interview, they’re going to have a good idea as to when they should follow up. They can use that as a guide post.

  If the HR person says, “Well, you know, I’ve just started reviewing resumes and reaching out to people, so I should be in contact with you soon,” I think if the cable repairman said, “I’ll be there soon,” you would ask them, “Well, what does soon mean?” I think it’s okay for a job seeker to say, “Soon. Do you mean in a couple of weeks, it would be okay for me to follow up with you? Do you think by then you’ll have a better idea of when you might be coming closer to some kind of a decision?” I think it’s really okay for a job seeker to get that clarification by asking questions and closing the interview that way.

  I’ve also heard other people close an interview with sort of a trial close, something that sounds a little risky to some people, but the question goes something like this. It starts with a statement. “I’m really interested in the opportunity and what I’ve learned about it so far. Can you think of any reason why you wouldn’t move me forward in the process?” By asking that question, it gives the person asking you the questions a chance for them to raise any concerns they may have.

  They may or may not do that, but if they do choose to say, “Well, we actually have some candidates that are stronger with their background,” it then will allow the job seeker to have more of a conversation. Perhaps they didn’t do a really good job highlighting some of the things that they’ve done in the past, so their experience didn’t come off as strong. Maybe there was something they didn’t talk about at all that they should, and HR or their phone screener can bring that up and they can have a discussion. I think that that trial close does give the job seeker an opportunity to overcome any objections that might be brought up.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. I like that question a lot. Once you hang up the phone, is this like an in-person interview? Should you send a thank you note? What’s the best next step after you’ve determined what the process is?

Hannah Morgan:

Right, depending on the process. That can guide what next steps you take and how quickly you take them. The general rule of thumb really is to send a thank you. Most people will not send a thank you after a phone interview, which is the very reason that every job seeker should do that. If most people aren’t doing it, and you do it, you’re going to be remembered as that person that sent a nice thank you note. It’s common courtesy. It is something that is dying, but it really can be a big differentiator if there is a tie situation. I’ve got 2 candidates. I don’t know which one I’m going to call, but this one sent me a thank you note. Hey, it’s a tie-breaker.

  The thank you note obviously, most people want to send those through email. If the time frame is really short, in other words, they’re going to be making a decision in the next 24, 36, 2 days, you’ll need to send your thank you via email, because it won’t make it there through regular US mail. If they say, “You know what, we’re taking our time with this. We think it’s going to be a couple of weeks,” then by all means, send a hard copy thank you note to the person who conducted the phone screen. You can send them an immediate follow-up after the interview through email saying quickly, “Thank you so much for your time. I enjoyed learning about your company,” and then follow that up with a hard copy thank you note. It might sound like overkill, but I don’t think when we’re talking about something like being polite and etiquette and manners and just common courtesy, that there’s anything that would be over the top there.

Mac Prichard:

Great. Thank you, Hannah. Tell us what’s next for you. What’s coming up for Hannah Morgan?

Hannah Morgan:

That’s a great question. Right now, I am doing an awful lot of writing. I’m writing every week for U.S. News & World Report, so I would encourage people to … U.S. News & World Report’s got a lot of great voices chiming in there, so I would encourage people to go and check out some of the articles that are being posted over there. Of course, mine is there as well.

Mac Prichard:

We’ll be sure to include links to your U.S. News & World Report column in the show notes. Listeners can also learn more about you by visiting your website, careersherpa.net, and they can follow you on Twitter. Your Twitter handle is @careersherpa. Hannah, thanks for being on the show.

Hannah Morgan:

Thank you, Mac, for having me. It was fun.

Mac Prichard:

It’s been a pleasure. Take care. Okay, we’re back with Ben and Jenna. I have to ask, is everybody smiling?

Ben Forstag:

I can barely talk because my lips are so far apart right now.

Jenna Forstrom:

My teeth are going to dry out because I’m smiling so hard.

Mac Prichard:

Yes. It’s actually a really good tip. I’ve heard it before. I can tell the difference when we do that. Let’s talk though about Hannah Morgan and my conversation with her. What were some key points that you heard Hannah make?

Ben Forstag:

I’m going to walk back that point I made earlier in the episode about you should turn off the little screen when you’re Skyping with someone, the screen where you get to see yourself, because I think one of the things Hannah said, which was a good point, is that you need to be able to see your own body reaction and make sure you’re in the right posture and make sure you’re smiling to have the best impression on the phone or on Skype. Maybe you want to consider not turning that off so you can keep an eye on how you look.

  The other thing I’d mention is her comment about wearing business attire when you’re going to do a phone interview. That’s all saying if you know you’re going to have that phone interview at a specific time. If you’re at the beach, don’t bring a suit just in case. That’d be weird. I know for me, definitely, when I’m wearing business clothes when I’m working at home, I work better. Maybe this says something about the dress code here at Mac’s List, but more or less, I wear the exact same outfit at home when I’m working on Fridays as every other day when I’m working here at the office.

Mac Prichard:

That’s certainly true for me. I go to a desk when we work at home on Fridays down in the basement. It’s all set up. That room actually looks a lot like my office here.

Ben Forstag:

I’m going to go on a wing here, Mac, and just guess. You’re wearing jeans and a plaid shirt when you’re working at home.

Mac Prichard:

Sometimes I mix it up, and I go for the vertical stripes.

Ben Forstag:

Okay.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. How about you, Jenna? What were some key ideas that you heard Hannah share with us?

Jenna Forstrom:

Good. I’m glad I don’t have the answer the “what do you wear on Fridays,” because it’s sweatpants, but I would probably wear those to work too if you guys didn’t look so adorable every day in your business clothes. I really liked her point on smiling. All the things I liked were the same things that Ben pulled out too. When I was in high school and studying to take my AP testing, my parents paid for me to take that class at Portland State to really study well. The lady said, “The thing that will be the most successful is how you treat the pre-interview, the pre-test, the AP test.” It was like, “If you eat breakfast every morning, eat breakfast, but if you’re not a breakfast eater, don’t eat breakfast because you’ll feel sick.”

  I feel like, if you just treated an interview day, like an interview phone call day, like a regular interview, so you wake up, you shower, you put on some good clothes, you smile, I always do my interviews, usually in my backyard, because I can walk. I have a pretty big backyard. That gets out that nervous anxiety, like when you hold anxiety, nervousness, inside of you. It gives a release that’s not fidgety or something like that. It would be interesting. I don’t know what I would do for a Skype interview, because I’d probably be tapping or distracting, which I’ve now learned as an audio engineer, you can’t tap anything because it picks up everything.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and the camera would show that too.

Jenna Forstrom:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. I think that’s always good, if you can, to use your headset and walk during an interview or any conversation. Coincidentally, as I walk up and down the halls here at Prichard Communications and Mac’s List, I see a lot of you doing that, actually walking around your offices, using the headsets during conference calls.

  The key point I heard Hannah make, it reminded me of a lesson I learned in the public relations business years ago. People often were afraid to say to a reporter the words, “I don’t know, but let me find out and I’ll get back to you.” Often, because you want to please, you say or do things that probably aren’t in your best interests. I think Hannah’s advice that, if you do get a call from an HR person and you’re behind the wheel of a car or you’re with your kids, it’s perfectly okay to say, “Hey, I’m with my family now. Is there a time later that I could call you back? I’m available during these hours. Would that be convenient for you?” That gives you also time to prepare and sit down and find a quiet spot, and maybe put on that business attire if that’s how you’re most productive.

  All right. Thank you both. Thank you, Hannah, for joining us. Thank you all for listening to today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job. If you like what you hear, please sign up for our free weekly newsletter. In each issue, we give you the key points of that week’s show. We also include links to all the resources mentioned, and you get a transcript of the full episode. If you subscribe to the newsletter now, we’ll send you our job seeker checklist. In 1 easy-to-use file, we show you all the steps you need to take to find a great job. Get your free newsletter and checklist today. Go to macslist.org/podcast. Join us next Wednesday when our special guest will be Matthew Kepnes. He’ll share with us his best productivity tips so you can get the most out of your day and your job search. Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

Phone interviews can be one of the most difficult aspects of the job search process. It’s all the pressure and stress of an in-person interview, without the benefits of seeing the interviewer’s body language, facial expressions, and nonverbal feedback.

Employers use phone interviews to save time, get a sense of an applicant’s personality and test their skill level. This phone screening saves an employer time allowing them to weed out those who may not have essential skills needed for the open position.

This week’s guest, Hannah Morgan, says the best way to ace a phone interview is through preparation. It’s best to prepare yourself with stories and examples of times you succeeded in completing similar tasks required for the job and focus on the positive outcomes. Use the company’s website to find out about its mission statement and who its customers are. The more you know the more relaxed you will be during the interview. Background research also helps you to prepare a list of questions to help you gain insights about your possible future employer.

Non-verbal body language is important during a phone interview. Hannah suggests these tried and true techniques:

  • Stand up or walk around during the interview. This opens up your diaphragm and projects your voice.
  • Smile while speaking. It enhances your voice.
  • Don’t talk over the interviewer. Take a moment before answering questions to ensure you don’t interrupt.
  • Dress in business attire. Studies show people feel more confident when they are dressed up.