Freelance writers often find themselves getting hired as a result of a phone interview. While probably less nerve wracking than a face to face interview, if you’re new to being interviewed for a writing job by phone, there are some things you need to know.
- Understanding what the interviewer is trying to do
- Remembering to interview your interviewer
- Do some prep work
- Make sure your phone battery is fully charged
- Don’t get too comfortable
- Take notes
- Feel free to ask these questions too
What is the interviewer trying to do?
The person or the company that is interviewing you has a problem. They need someone to do some writing for them. Something in your response to their ad has given them hope you might be the one. Understand that your job will be to solve their problem and you have taken an important step to getting hired.
Make sure you understand, as best you can, what exactly they need you to do. Now you’re in a position to let them know you know how to do exactly that. And if not exactly, close to, or that you’re willing to learn on the fly. Let them know you can solve their problem and you’re close to getting hired.
Interview the interviewer
You also want to interview the interviewer. Be sure you understand what they want done. You also need to know why they want it done – after all, knowing the whys will help you help them. Ask who will have final approval and how the approval system works in their shop. Ask not only how much you’ll be paid, but how (check, PayPal, some other system), and how long after completion of the project. If the project is a big one, ask getting paid at certain milestones.
Some feel they shouldn’t interview the interviewer – after all, the reasoning goes, they have a job I want and I don’t want to risk offending them. Not so – they have a job you think you might want and interviewing them in return is the only way you can determine if the gig is for you. Besides, you’re a peer, a professional, and professionals don’t walk into new jobs without finding out about the fit.
Do some prep work
Sure, spend a bit of time finding out what you can about the company. If they are in Glassdoor, that makes your life easier. If not, see if you can find them on the web. Dig a little deeper if they don’t have a web site – ask in your favorite writers forum or LinkedIn group. Don’t, however, drive yourself crazy. You don’t need details, just a sense of the organization.
Make sure your phone battery is fully charged
You can probably guess why I include this one… it’s darn embarrassing if your phone quits in the middle of an interview – I know!
Don’t get too comfortable
You want to be comfortable while you’re on the phone, but not so comfortable you find yourself slouching. Sitting up straight, even standing, will all make your voice stronger. Smiles actually come through your voice on the phone, in fact your whole demeanor is pretty obvious when you’re talking on the phone. You want to be professional, but not stiff. Probably being yourself is the best way to increase your chances of getting hired.
Take notes during the interview. Get answers to your questions and write them down. If they make an offer to hire you those notes will help you in any negotiations. I often will open a file and take notes right on my computer. I don’t keep them if I don’t want the job or it turns out they don’t want me.
Try these questions too
If the interview is going well and I think it’s a gig I want I ask these two questions:
- How’s the response to your ad, are you finding what you need?
- How do I stack up against the competition?
The first tells me a bit about my competition so the answer to the second is more meaningful. In my experience the interviewer is glad to answer both these questions – perhaps not in detail, but in general.
A final tip about getting hired
Back in the day when I was a head hunter we taught our clients to tell the interviewer they wanted the job. Turns out many prospects leave without giving a clue. A simple statement like “Thanks for the time; this sounds like a job I’d really like to do.” can turn the tide in your favor.
Write well and often,