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10 Top Tips for Contract Phone Interviews

1. Always Be Prepared. Have a physical copy of your CV and the job description in front of you ready. Put together a bulleted list of items you want to cover during the call to best promote your skills and suitability and ensure you identify and highlight all of them during the call.  Make sure you have web access if needed and make or receive the interview call on a landline if possible.

2. Do your own Homework. Try to find out as much as you can about the job prior to the interview, from friends, old colleagues or better still someone who actually works there now, to try to understand the work environment and its demands. Research the company on the internet too and make note of any major projects or new products recently released as a good starting point for questions later.  

3. Work with your Recruiter. Listening closely to the background and current situation on your application can make all the difference. Your recruiter should know the reason behind the vacancy, the likely timeframe to start, number of current candidates, pay range and most importantly may even have had phone conversations with your interviewer about your suitability. Use this to your advantage and ask your recruiter, what the interviewer’s main objectives are what their phone manner is like and they may even know some of the questions you may be asked, so work closely with them to give yourself the best chance of possible success for the interview.

4. Make yourself Comfortable. Many contractors make the mistake of trying to fit a phone interview during their lunch hour at work. If the interviewer is running a few minutes late or the call goes well and last longer than anticipated this will create silent tension into the interview as it progresses. So make sure that you set aside 90 minutes in your schedule to accommodate any unforeseen changes, this will relax you in preparation, allow you to take your time in the interview and even show the flexibility to conduct an immediate second interview if things go really well

5. Start Strong. The first 2 minutes of a telephone interview are crucial, first impressions usually remain. So make a really positive start to the call, take charge by answering the phone by stating your name in a very friendly manner. This lets the person on the other line know exactly who you are and saves them the trouble of asking for you. The perfect start to a call would be “Good afternoon John Smith speaking, This is Mr. Jones I am calling for our interview, great thanks for the call Mr. Jones I have been really looking forward to speaking with you, where would you like to start?” . So know exactly how you will greet the caller and how you will start the conversation this will immediately relax you both when the time comes for the interview to take place.

6. Smile on Demand. Smiling when you speak actually brings energy and excitement to your voice. When speaking on the phone, your voice can lose about half of its energy during transmission. Make sure your enthusiasm gets across by smiling when you speak about your experience and asking questions. If the conversation is very technical by nature, try to add some light relief where appropriate this should work towards the interviewer getting to like you as a person too.

7. Be Patient.  Everyone has different phone habits. The key to a great phone interview is to treat it like a game of Tennis, vary your tempo and length of responses to exactly match the interviewers lead, similar to a long rally in a game. Take your time listening to questions, if you don’t understand it fully like a second serve ask politely for it to be repeated, this may even buy you some time for a tricky answer. If the initial questions are short and sharp respond the same, you should see as the interview progresses the tempo will decrease, the key is staying in the game as long as possible.

8. Make a Freelance Connection. The advantage of being a contractor is you may have been in a variety of different jobs and worked with many industry professionals. This can be highly beneficial, during the course of the interview look for some common ground on a type of project you have completed or old colleagues you may share, this connection is vital and will create a visualization of working together for the interviewer and naturally relax them to talk about different situations and challenges you may face in the position. Empathy is paramont to a successful contract job interview.

9. Be Market Smart. Advanced preparation on the current market conditions and going pay rates for your skills can swiftly demonstrate your worth to an Interviewer, smartly matching your experience and achievements to a fair compensation can also lead quickly to a job offer. If you show confidence and value in your services this will enable the interviewer to feel comfortable in matching his assessment to realistic compensation and make the interview worthwhile. Ensure that your financial goals are not outside their budget, if asked for specific details on rates, be prepared and honest, if they have done a good job of explaining the merits of the positions emphasize this to them if you really want the job and also cite this as the deciding factor if you do have to come down in rate somewhat, this will ensure that you are immediately identified as a very strong candidate and should lead to a job offer accordingly.

10. Leave a Lasting Impression. You must convince the interviewer that having you come into the office for a personal interview will not be a waste of their time if needed. Assure them that this is something beneficial for both parties and ask them the process for this to gauge their interest in hiring you too. They may be interviewing a number of candidates so make yourself memorable by smart questions, a shared experience, demonstrating flexibility and most importantly a clear intent to deliver the services they are looking for by making it easy to hire you both financially and personally.