It's all very well being prepared for an interview conducted over the phone, or making sure that you know how to behave in the interview room, but what if someone at the company you're applying to calls you beforehand, to check you can make an interview time, or confirm an offer, or for a pre-interview 'screening'?
If you're actively involved in a job search, you need to be aware that this could happen at any time -- you always need to be on your guard...
So keep the following things in mind:
- Never allow a potential interviewer to know s/he is interrupting your work. If you are too busy to answer the phone, don't do so until you can give it your full and dedicated attention.
- Don't answer the phone when you're upset or angry. If you don't recognise the number, it might be that important call -- it's better to miss the immediate opportunity of speaking to a potential employer than blow a long-term opportunity by coming over aggressive or depressed.
- Having said that, make sure you return all calls promptly! You don't want a reputation for tardiness before you've even been interviewed...
- A potential interviewer doesn't want to know what you're doing, right now, even if you're actually engaged in some pre-interview research -- you want to come across as enthusiastic, but not pushy or needy.
- Conversely, if you're asked about your life, don't 'clam up' and refuse to talk about yourself: if you are asked to say more about yourself, the potential employer wants to know you're a communicative, engaging individual, not just a voice attached to a CV.
- Finally, treat the caller with respect -- that means using appropriate language and vocabulary. Choose your words carefully: if in doubt, leave it out.