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Out-Person Interviewing

May 19, 2009

In Herzing’s Career Development course, students are required to complete a phone interview with their instructor as part of the final exam. Thoughd it is easy to dismiss the phone interview as being unpractical, many students will find themselves completing a phone interview at some point in their careers. Phone interviews are a popular way of interviewing out-of-area candidates, allowing employers to determine if an applicant is worth bringing on-site for a second, in-person interview. Additionally, in an increasingly competitive job market, some employers find the phone interview to be a time-efficient method of screening out candidates. In a five question, 20 minute phone interview, a hiring manager may be able to decide whether or not the job seeker has the potential to be successful in the position. If the answer is yes, the company can then commit to spending an hour or more of its time completing a traditional, in-person interview with the applicant.

Phone interviews can be unnerving even for the most confident and seasoned interviewers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare for a phone interview:

Quiet your environment. The interview should occur in a quiet, peaceful setting where you can feel relaxed. Schedule your interview at a time you know you can have the kids, dogs, etc. out of the house for a couple hours. A loud noise in the background during your interview can make you seem unprofessional.

Come prepared. Interviewing at a distance affords you the unique opportunity of having plenty of notes in front of you. As always, you should have a copy of your cover letter and resume within reach, but you can also have other pages of information accessible as well. Is there a specific anecdote you are hoping to share with your interviewer? Write a note to remind yourself in case you are nervous and forget. Have a list of questions you would like to ask about the position or the company? Write them down too. Your interviewer will be none the wiser.

Prepare an online portfolio. Create an online portfolio to highlight your educational and professional accomplishments. The portfolio is a convenient way for out-of-area employers to view any work samples you would normally take to an in-person interview.

Smile. Yes, I realize the interviewer won’t be able to see if you’re smiling, but he or she will be able to hear it in your voice. When you smile, you sound confident, friendly, and relatable.

Listen closely. It sounds like common sense, but it’s easy to tune out someone when you are speaking on the phone. Don’t be afraid to take notes if it helps you pay closer attention.

Follow up. Just like a traditional interview, make sure to ask your interviewer when you can expect to hear back from him or her and always follow up by sending a thank you note within 24 hours.

Feel free to email me at and check out Herzing University Online at

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