Phone Interviews: the First Hurdle in Landing a Job
The old saying: ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ is just as true for phone interviews as it is for face-to-face ones. Job hunters often mistakenly believe that phone interviews are less formal, yet they’re a critical first hurdle in landing a job.
A phone interview usually means you are being pre-screened. Recruiters, a hiring manager, or the search committee are looking for specific abilities and traits. A phone interview might be the most difficult dialogue you face in the application process so you must be able to communicate your personal brand well. The goal of a phone interview for applicants is to secure an in-person meeting and for recruiters to narrow the list of prospects. You can increase the odds of passing this initial screening if you follow this advice:
1. Minimize distractions
If you have scheduled a conversation, plan to be in a quiet place. If the call was unexpected, it is OK to reschedule. Traffic noise, flushing toilets, clamouring dishes and barking dogs interrupting the phone interview are not a good scenario.
Make sure your connection is good so it doesn’t break in the middle of the conversation and that the recruiter is able to hear you well.
2. Sharpen your verbal skills
Due to lack of eye contact and body language in a phone interview, candidates are evaluated by what they say and how they say it. Recruiters search for qualities such as passion for the job, professionalism and whether the person might be a good culture fit. You should be clear on what culture suits you best as well. You can figure that out through networking, being open to headhunters and being open to feedback.
Keep in mind that unpolished speech habits, gum chewing, smoking and eating are the biggest turn-offs for recruiters.
3. Prepare in advance
If you’ve scheduled or are anticipating a phone interview, keep notes and your resume at hand. Do your homework and research the company as you would before a face-to-face interview. Prepare questions you would like to ask about the company and the role. Besides reviewing your resume with the recruiter it might be a good idea to review your portfolio too in case you have one. At the end of the conversation take initiative and ask the recruiter what the next step will be.
4. Follow up
After a phone interview, send a thank-you email that summarizes what you had discussed. Use your thank you note as a way to provide information on anything regarding your qualifications you didn’t get a chance to mention during the phone interview. Make sure to communicate your brand and emphasize why you’re a fit for this role.
The face-to-face interview won’t happen if you don’t treat a phone interview with the same gravity. Good luck!