The Phone Interview
The phone interview has transitioned over the past decade from an informal "get to know you" phone conversation from a potential employer to an integral, critical first step in the interview process. The expectations and outcomes of the phone interview have evolved as well. Candidates in the past would anticipate an "invite" to the company for the "real interview" if they got along well with the interviewer in this initial phone call. Today, candidates need to treat this phone interview as "the first interview" in the entire process. As such, the preparation and execution during the phone interview are essential to a successful outcome, a second interview. Today, more than 75% of our clients will utilize the phone interview to launch the interview process. With this trend, the candidate must be prepared. Here are a few tips to consider:
1. Whether you are representing yourself or being presented by a recruiter, insist that the phone interview be scheduled for a specific date and time, just as you would a face-to-face interview, and make sure that it is scheduled at a time when you will be in a quiet place, with no distractions, so you are totally free to talk and can have a good interactive exchange. Ideally, you should plan the call so you are on a "land line" vs. a mobile phone where reception can be less than perfect.
2. Make sure that you allot sufficient time for this interview. Find out how much time you should plan on for the phone interview and allow 15 minutes extra. If things are going well, it may run over. You do not want to "squeeze it in" on a tight lunch hour, or rush because you have to get off the phone to get to work!
3. Prepare for the phone interview just as you would a face-to-face. Research the company, review the job description in detail and put together a list of key features of your background and credentials that match with the core competencies required of the position. Also prepare an extensive list of questions for the interviewer, questions about the job and the company. Make sure that your list of questions is long enough so that you don't "run out of questions". When the interviewer, who undoubtedly will be asking most of the questions, asks if you have any questions, do not respond by saying that he has already answered all of the questions you had! This will insure that you do not get to the next step!
4. The good news and bad news about a phone interview: The good news, you will be sitting at a desk in a quiet spot with all of your preparation notes, questions and resume in front of you. You can have easy access to all of your "cheat sheets" to refer to during the interview, something that could never happen in a face-to-face. The bad news, you will not be sitting face-to-face with your interviewer. Developing rapport, reading body language to see how you are doing during the interview (does he like your answers!), emulating enthusiasm with your body language and eye contact are all elements that will be missing. You need to be aware of this and make that extra effort to "shake hands with your voice"! Make sure that you are speaking clearly, distinctly and with lots of enthusiasm.
5. Make sure that you get closure at the end of the phone interview. Your mission is to get an invite to the company for a second interview. At the close of the conversation, summarize some of the reasons why you feel this position would be a positive career move for you or why you feel you could be an asset to this particular group within the company. Let the interviewer know that you are excited about what you learned regarding the company and the job and would love to have an opportunity to meet the interviewer and other members of the group in person. Know you schedule and availability for a company visit before the call is initiated. If you get an invite, you want to be prepared to schedule and confirm it right on the spot.