Q: Janis, I got a call asking me inviting me to a phone interview. Is this a good thing?
This, my friend, is good news. At most companies, this is the first step in the hiring process, so celebrate! Once you’ve congratulated yourself, next you must prepare. This is an exciting first step, but just like everything else in the job hunting world, there are pros and cons of a phone interview. Careful preparation will help you build on the advantages. Think about these things before you take that interview call:
Before the call:
1. Find the job posting. What are the key elements of this job? What skills and experience can you bring to add value?
2. You may have tailored your resume to this job position. Make sure you have a copy of the resume you sent to them, so you are seeing what the interviewer is seeing.
3. Prepare your own list of questions about this job, but avoid money or benefits. Keep your questions about the job functions and responsibilities, or about the company itself.
4. Plan to take (or make) the call in a space that is quiet and free from distractions. If possible, use a reliable land line. If you’re on a cell phone, make sure to find a place with good reception so the called won’t be dropped.
5. Don’t be nervous. This is a conversation about you—a subject where you’re the expert. Also, this call is on your home turf. That’s good, too.
During the call:
1. If you aren’t sure who is calling you, ask them to repeat their name and spelling of their name. This will come in handy when you send your thank you after the interview.
2. Let the interviewer lead the conversation. Talk less. Listen more.
3. Don’t interrupt. It is easy to accidentally cut people off, so wait for a second or two to make sure they’re finished speaking.
4. They can’t see you and you can’t see them. You need to sound upbeat and positive. One way to maintain this is to smile as you speak. It sounds strange, but it really works. Even better – you’ll feel more upbeat too!
5. Take notes. You may want to ask them a follow-up question later. Notes will help you remember.
6. Don’t forget to express your interest in the next phase of the process and thank your interviewer. Follow up with an email thanking them for the conversation.
All this is great, but what about those moments when they call without warning? How can you stall for time? I suggest you tell them that this is an awkward moment, but they will have your full attention in 15 minutes and are they able to call back. Almost always the caller will grant you that time. In the rare situation that they can’t call back, the only thing left is to do your best. You can often mend a broken interview.
In the end, phone interviews should get you excited – you’re being considered for a position! Just remember that you will always maximize your chances by preparing and keeping these few tips in mind when you’re taking that call.
Janis Williams is the Recruitment and Placement Specialist at PHC Northwest. She works to find employment candidates for open PHC Northwest positions across diverse business lines. She has ten years experience as a recruiter and has helped hundreds of job seekers successfully navigate the hiring process.