I like phone interviews. They're a good way for you to screen your new manager and for your new manager to screen you. Within a few minutes both sides can get a feel as to whether it is worth pursuing matters or whether there just isn't a good fit.
On the candidate side, you don't have to worry about getting yourself to the building and taking time away from your current contract. On the manager's side, phone calls provide more scheduling flexibility and have much lower overhead than an in person meeting. You both, in theory, could have a handful of phone interviews in the same amount of time that a single in person interview would require.
Of course, phone interviews shouldn't lead to any decision other than no interest or some interest, lets meet. Only once in my consulting career have I been offered a position that I also accepted without having met anyone in person. The circumstances were extraordinary and I imagine that it won't ever happen again.
So if the offer of a phone interview is given, accept it. Here are some recommendations on how to phone interview:
- Make sure you have some where private to take the call. Whispering on the phone so your co-workers won't hear you doesn't come across well.
- With a phone call, you lose the ability to use body language to show enthusiasm. However, some things still come through your voice. For instance, sometimes a smile can affect the way you're talking and the interviewer will detect it. That's good. And like an in person interview where it's obvious if you're paying attention, it is also obvious while on the phone if you're distracted.
- Consider standing or walking around while on the phone. It'll help you project enthusiasm and interest in your voice.
- Don't type while you're on the phone. Either the interviewer will hear the keys clicking or you'll be so intent on typing quietly that you won't focus on the call.