Many of junior developers consider technical interview a compulsory torture. This fear is not confined to the IT fresher who has little or no experience in any software technology. Even experienced professionals wish to avoid a technical interview. However, mention that the interview will be on phone, and most candidates cannot contain their enthusiasm. That is because a telephone interview is thought to be very easy in comparison to the face to face interview.

People often feel that they will be able to ace a phone interview without any preparation. But the truth is that no interview should be taken lightly, particularly if the interview happens to be a technical phone one. This interview requires careful planning and understanding of the interview pattern. So you should prepare well in advance. You may be required to practice and improvise your pitch and tone.

You have to give considerations to the way you answer each question in any interview. While you may be under the impression that you will be able to improvise in the interview itself, you may have to loose a perfectly good job opportunity because of your impromptu act. That is not to say that you should carry out some elaborate rehearsals for the interview. Certainly not! What I am suggesting is far simpler and useful.

Communication skills

I feel that every interviewee for a technical phone interview should not only take some time to improve his overall communication skills but also work hard to expand his technical knowledge. Let us begin with the topic of communication skills. Here, communication skills refer to your command on

- Language
- Tone
- Attitude and
- Listening skills.

Let first begin with the simplest factor – language. Since, an interviewer should be able to understand what you are answering; you have to be able to create coherent and (if possible) grammatically correct sentences. Since, in the global world of today, many software programmers from different countries apply for a job in the IT firms, it is somewhat simplistic to expect all of them to be able to speak absolutely correct English. The good news is that most interviewers recognize this. Since any IT firm is far more interested in the candidate’s programming skills instead of speaking skills, minor glitches in language will be accepted freely in technical phone interviews. Of course, if you speak well apart from coding well, you will be offering tough competition to the other candidates.

Speak in the right tone

Another important aspect of phone interviews is the tone and pitch of your voice. Your confidence will be projected in your tone of voice and in most technical phone interviews the interviewer will try to understand your temperament through this. Naturally, this might need a little practice too if you are a novice in giving interviews. As far as possible, you should avoid any jittery words which highlight your nervousness. Too many “ums” may give a poor impression too. Staying calm, cool and collected should be your mantra while giving the interview.

Have a confident and polite attitude

Next thing to consider is your attitude to the entire interview process. How you handle the given interview pattern will be greatly decided by your flexibility. It is an undeniable fact that over confidence or lack of confidence can keep you from behaving properly in any situation. Your attitude needs some change if you are known to be snobbish, brash and disrespectful – traits of egotism. With a little refinement you can show just the right mix of self confidence and humility. I have often noticed that many know-it-all IT people act over smart in interviews and rub the interviewers the wrong way.

On the other extreme are the painfully shy programmers who find it very difficult to speak aloud. They give the impression that they would prefer to hide somewhere with their computers instead of speaking on phone to anyone. Thus, if you are at either end of a software programmer spectrum, you should make a sincere attempt to change your attitude.

Listen carefully

Finally, before going for the interview ask yourself to be patient and proactive. A good interviewee is not only the one who can speak well but also the one who listens to every comment of the interviewer properly. In their hurry to be done with the process, most of the candidates in interviews speak out even before the interviewer is done with his questions. This might peeve the interviewer.

Moreover, since many technical questions involve puzzles and aptitude based questions that require logical thinking, it is better to listen carefully before hurrying with an awkwardly framed answer. Thus, when it comes to the preparation for the technical phone interview, carry out a few mock exercises in front of a mirror or a trust worthy friend. Both ways, you will get a feedback of how you behave when faced with a questionnaire.

Study for your interview

Of course, all your self confidence and smart attitude will be of no use if you do not answer the technology related questions correctly. In order to prepare for the technical questions, you have to study. There is no working around this problem. You must review all those technologies with which you are less familiar. You need to have a functional knowledge of all those languages and software which you claim to know very well in your resume. Moreover, if you have written that you have worked for 3 years in Java, you will be expected to talk about this language without hesitation.

A significant aspect of the preparation for any technical phone interview involves refreshing all the technologies that you think the interviewer may talk about. The whole idea is to make yourself as comfortable as possible so that you feel confidant and knowledgeable.

Prepare a few summaries about yourself

Also, always prepare two summaries about yourself and your experience. One should be short and of about 30 seconds and the other one should be longer and of about 2 minutes. Most interviews follow certain set patterns like asking common questions to break the ice. Questions like “Tell me about yourself” are commonly used as conversation starters and it would look very awkward if you choke-up in the beginning of the interview.

Research the employer

A simple way to impress the employer is by learning as much as possible about his company. You must know the company you are interviewing for. You can do this in many ways. One of the simplest is to look for the company’s website on Internet. Try to find out about the vision, mission, current employees and other facts with the help of the website.

You could also go to the actual company and see the general atmosphere there. The domains and technologies that are being pursued by the company will help you understand what the company is looking for. Most interviews follow pattern in which they ask simple non-technical questions in the beginning. In such questions, you could utilize all that you have learnt about the company. When you are asked something like “How can you contribute to the organization?” you can answer keeping the company’s overall policies in mind. Besides, when an interviewer notices that the candidate knows so much about the company, he gets impressed with his enthusiasm and interest.

Dressing the part

It has become fashionable to categorize any IT environment as “cool” and casual, not requiring any formal dressing or behavior. This leads many interviewees to overlook the dressing aspect of an interview.

The situation seems all the more casual if you are attending a phone interview as the interviewer will not be able to see you. However, your dress will influence your mood while speaking and even though the interviewer might not be able to see you, he will be able to judge how formal you are by your tone. You could, therefore, dress smartly and formally to set the appropriate tone of interview. I don't say you need to wear a suite for the phone screening, just avoid doing it in your boxers.

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