Vocal Presence: The Key to Knocking Your Next Phone Interview Out of the Park

January 21, 2019 in Career and Job Search Tips, Interview Tips



Preparing for an upcoming phone interview?

Sure, you need to answer questions effectively.

And yes, you should temporarily evict your dog.

But if you want to really nail your phone interview, you should also develop a strong vocal presence.

What’s vocal presence?

As the term implies, vocal presence is using your voice’s tone, color and richness to complement your body language and the words you’re communicating. Here are just a few of the variables influenced by your vocal presence:

  • confidence
  • intelligence
  • friendliness
  • competence
  • empathy
  • calmness
  • experience

In the absence of visual cues (i.e., on the phone), listeners will focus strongly on your voice. And thankfully, vocal presence is a communication skill you can master to positively influence your audience’s impression of you.

Tips for developing vocal presence

On the phone, your interviewer will (both consciously and unconsciously) assess the way you speak to draw conclusions about your candidacy. Below, our food industry executive recruiters share simple tips to improve your vocal presence – and ultimately land the food and beverage job you want:

  • Pay attention to your posture. Your voice reflects your body’s position. Sit up with your shoulders back (or even stand) so that your vocal and breathing apparatus are free to work properly.
  • Smile when you speak. It may sound contrived, but it works. Speaking with a smile on your face: improves your state of mind; conveys your enthusiasm for the job; makes the listener feel good; and helps you make a positive impression.
  • Control your pitch, rate. When under pressure, people typically speak faster and in a higher tone. Practice slowing your rate of speech, controlling your pitch and using inflection to add richness and interest to your language.
  • Be aware of vocal fillers. Occasional use of words like “um,” “so,” and “like” is a natural part of speaking, but this vocal clutter can become off-putting when overused. If you rely on filler words, slowly train yourself to clean up your speech – and practice being silent as you gather your thoughts.
  • Nix “up-speak” and “vocal fry.” “Up-speak” is a vocal style in which statements end with a rise in pitch, so that they sound like questions. It makes everything you say sound tentative (and you definitely don’t want that). Similarly, research has shown that “vocal fry” (a low-pitched, creaky-sounding speech inflection – think Kim Kardashian or Britney Spears) can actually hurt your chances in an interview.
  • Consider using a headset. Doing so frees you to use your upper body to emphasize points you want to make (listeners can “hear” those gestures over the phone!).
  • Use notes, but not a script. Jot down key words, phrases or points about what you want to convey in your phone interview (and keep your resume handy). These will help jog your memory, but keep you from sounding over-rehearsed.
  • List the qualities you want your voice to embody. For example, do you want to sound professional, approachable, smart and/or experienced in your phone interview? Write these qualities down and then consider how you might achieve them vocally. Experiment with different approaches (varying the factors listed above) to see what works best. Use your phone’s voice recorder or another taping device to practice, or enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member.

Want more food & beverage job search advice?

Sharing what we’ve learned with job candidates is at the heart of Kinsa Group’s mission. If you’re not on our email list, sign up here to receive more career and job search tips monthly.

Related post: 9 Biggest Phone Interview Mistakes to Avoid