It’s about “nailing” this initial step…
A phone interview can oftentimes be a crucial early stage in the hiring process. Many firms and corporations will utilize an initial phone interview with applicants whose resumes stand out but by their nature cannot deliver those personal “intangibles” so important for a successful hire. In this preliminary phone interaction, the hiring manager (or HR rep) is looking to determine if the candidate is poised to engage in the requisite in-depth interviews that are about to unfold. This phone interview is just part of their screening procedure—but an important part nonetheless.
Priority #1: it’s about getting to the next round of interviews.
PHONE INTERVIEW PREPARATION
As with any interview, preparation is key. Don’t let your guard down just because it’s a phone call. For some, there may be a tendency to take the call lightly—that would be a mistake. In many instances, this phone screen by the employer is of utmost importance because you may not get a second chance. Most likely, the interviewer is looking to narrow down numerous candidates QUICKLY and then pass on the best applicants to the next stage, probably an in-person or video interview.
Bear in mind, this initial phase is all about saving the employer time and effort; they’re looking to highlight the cream of the crop.
That’s why it’s imperative for you to briefly emphasize the core essence of your experience and credentials. As you prepare for the call, ask yourself what major qualifications about yourself and your career do you want the interviewer to recognize and pass on so you make the cut, which is always the next round of interviews. Think of it like a brief synopsis for a movie or television show—it’s all about attraction: What will intrigue the firm or company to be interested in me?
As you prepare, get a well-rounded understanding of the firm or company and then determine how and why your experience and skill set would be an attribute for them. Examine their website and social media. Gain a strong grasp on their values and culture. Check to see if there’s been any recent news about the group or acquisitions. You may have an opportunity to weave a solid point into the conversation. Strong research will allow you to formulate answers that will help position you as an ideal and passionate candidate.
Make sure to prioritize your responses based on how relevant they are to the position. Remember, the interviewer already knows your basic intel. In the short time allotted, your answers should focus on how well you understand the position available and why you believe you’re a good fit for the XYZ organization.
You Have the Home Field Advantage
Unlike an in-person or video interview, take advantage of the opportunity to have prepared notes in front of you. Since you’re on the phone, you can remain engaged in the conversation while ensuring the content of your answer. No one is watching—but keep this in mind: do not write a script or statements with dialogue; simply create an outline with bullet points, even trigger words that will help you remain conversational and always on point.
Priority #2: in these phone screen interviews, “brevity” should be your word of the day. Don’t make any of your answers the long and winding road.
Experts also offer this bit of advice: try and keep your questions to a minimum, if any at all. If you make the next round, you’ll have plenty of time and opportunity to ask questions that are important to you. Remember, the person on the other end of the call is charged with screening you and your potential. Asking too many questions may send up a red flag and will also add time to a call that should be tight and concise. And don’t be afraid to take notes for future reference.
Priority #3: be confident, straightforward, enthusiastic and friendly—it’s a good formula for phone interview etiquette.
What to Expect
In most instances, a telephone job interview will probably be no more in-depth than what’s already listed on your resume and application—the interviewer is simply looking for some additional basic context. Think of it this way: a first interview by phone is really about verifying your professionalism, the quality of your communication skills, how well you interact in a business environment and, taken together, do you stand a good chance of impressing the next individual or team during subsequent rounds of interviews.
Tips for Success
Here’s a list of additional tips we’ve collected designed to bolster your chances for an outstanding phone interview:
Research the firm or company - Distinguish your knowledge
Know who you’re set to speak with - Go online and find out their role with firm/company
Fully understand the job description - So your answers always focus on the applied for position
Make sure your phone is charged - For obvious reasons
Always be enthusiastic - Since they can’t see you, words are your only tools
Concentrate. Be a good listener - It will help to inform your answers
Smile when appropriate - Even though they can’t see you, people can “hear” a smile
Have your notes and resume right in front of you - Remember, home field advantage
Research common interview questions online - Be prepared
Interview in a quiet location - If at home, make sure family members (and pets) are aware you need silence. If possible, avoid public spaces
Create a professional voicemail - If the call goes to VM, you want to make a solid impression
Ask about next steps - If they don’t offer the information
Make sure you send a “thank you” email - Within 24 hours
Recently, we’ve posted two additional blogs regarding the interview process: an overall look at the interview process entitled Interview Tips: Be Prepared. Be Confident. Be Enthusiastic and a second blog that focuses on the video interview process entitled ZOOM Interview Tips. Please check them out as well.