Long before I hunted for interviews as a journalist, phone calls created anxiety and sometimes near panic. Whether I was mustering up the courage to call a girl in my high school class or spilling the beans to my parents about a bad grade on a college exam, the telephone felt like it only created awkward moments and shame. But as a budding journalist, I see the need to abandon my hang-ups about phone interviews and pick up some essentials from experts in the field.
What challenges arise with a phone call? As an interviewer, it’s harder to make the interviewee comfortable over the phone. Chit chat with a stranger isn’t as natural without eye contact and hand gestures. The small talk we use in person (“Do you come to this coffee shop often?” “Isn’t that a neat painting!”) doesn’t work; there’s no common ground when a ringing phone is picked up. But that doesn’t mean the conversation has to be uncomfortable. In his article “The Phone Interview Lives, and Why That’s a Good Thing,” public relations blogger Clay Zeigler wrote, “The telephone allows for a level of detail, clarification and nuance not possible with other electronic methods.” Though an in person interview might be ideal, the phone is a close second.