Prepping for a phone interview? Do you need to schedule an important phone call?

Watch this video or read the article below!

Although we do not talk over the phone as much as we used to, phone calls fulfill a very specific set of communication needs. 

I always recommend that applicants call organizations before they apply. Job applicants should call potential employers and current employees.  Academic or internship applicants should call program directors and current students/interns. 

The more people you talk to, the more information you gain and the more connections you make.

Phone calls are an efficient means of communication and provide the opportunity to build a personal connection. Unlike typed/written communication (e.g. email, text, etc.), phone calls support relationship building through real-time communication. BUT…

Talking over the phone poses a challenge to many people.  We email, text, and message much more than we talk over the phone. The time to contemplate and edit is dramatically reduced when speaking in real-time. So, many are uncomfortable over the phone and prefer emailing.

How do you overcome this challenge?

Whether you are preparing for a phone interview or an important phone meeting, practice is key. The more you talk over the phone the better you will get at it. However, “Perfect practice makes perfect.”

How do you practice perfectly? 

First, you must remember the reason you are talking over the phone instead of emailing: to make a connection. In order to do this, you must convey your personality and character.

Here are six strategies that will help you convey your character and build a connection over the phone. 

6. Prepare

If you are hopelessly dependent on written communication, then compose an outline or email prior to your conversation. There are a few questions to answer when preparing for an important phone call:

  • a.  What do you want to accomplish? Determine the overall goal of this phone call.  Keeping this goal in mind will help you feel more confident and focused. 
  • b.  What are you two going to talk about? Plan the topics or points you want to address. Write them down.
  • c.  What kind of connection are trying to build? Professional? Respectful? Friendly? Brainstorm a list of terms and phrases that convey these adjectives. Thinking of these will help you incorporate them in your speech.
  • d.  How are you going to address this person? Determine whether you are going to use formal or informal (professional or casual) language. For example, how are you going to address this person (e.g. Dr.; Mrs.; Billy)?

5. Smile

Typically, you want to project a positive tone. Although the person on the other line cannot see you, smiling can be heard. The activation of these particular orofacial muscles changes your pronunciation and tone. It also releases endorphins which makes you feel more at ease.

When you feel at ease, so does the person on the other line. 


4. Pose

 If you are not power-posing yet, then it is time to start. The posture of your body influences your mood and behavior through hormonal fluctuations. 

 When you open up your shoulders and chest, stand tall, and stand proud…then you feel tall and proud. 

While on the phone, try to open up your posture and make yourself as big as possible. So, place your appendages outside the width of your torso. This can mean placing your hands on your hips and the back of your head, standing with feet hip-width apart, or crossing your ankle over your knee when you sit.

 For more information on power-posing, see Dr. Amy Cuddy discuss her research HERE.

3. Look Awesome

For important phone calls, you should feel important. Do not confuse this with dressing in an out-of-the ordinary, uncomfortable business suit. 

Only your opinion of “looking awesome” counts here!

Select an outfit, hairdo, and other accoutrement that makes you feel ‘on top of the world’. 

The better you look, the better you feel….the better you communicate.


2. Breathe

If you find yourself gasping for air, then you are not breathing. As innate as this is, without practice, we can improperly alternate speaking with breathing. 

This means that you are not thinking of your conversation in terms of sentences. You cannot breathe at the end of a sentence if you do not know where it is. 

Here is a technique to avoid this:

  • Start a thought with a preface word or phrase “Well…” or “What I was thinking…”
  • Take a deep breath. Loud enough for the other person to hear it. Out and in or in and out.
  • During the breath, think about the sentence you are about to say.
  • Finish the sentence with another breath while you think of the next sentence.

People do not mind hearing you breathe…this actually lets them know that you are still on the line. This breathing pattern will also let you set the pace. 

Once you find your pace, you will not have to think about it. So, practice with friends and family.

1. Get comfortable with silence

You also must practice to avoid filling silence. The need to fill silence with speech leads to jabbering. Providing too much unnecessary information can lead the conversation off topic, off schedule, and can make both parties feel uncomfortable. Not ideal.

If you are preparing for an important phone call, then you may want to ask someone that you are not 100% comfortable with (e.g. a colleague, a family member of a friend, an acquaintance, etc.) to practice with you. 

Do not let them know that practicing bouts of silence is one of your aims. That way, they will say something if your bouts of silence are too long. 

Follow these strategies and soon you will be a pro at connecting over the phone.

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To learn more about talking to DI Directors and dietetic interns over the phone, try out the DI Application Crash Course