Preparation Tips for Effective Phone Interview
If you haven't interviewed for a job in awhile, you may be surprised when you are asked to do a phone interview first. Most companies are using a phone interview to speed up the hiring cycle. The purpose of the phone interview is to cut down the pile of applicants to the chosen few, who will make it past the screen to get a face-to-face interview. Because employers are pushed for time and often have a skeleton HR crew to help, they don't want to bring in a lot of potential candidates, only to find they've wasted an hour because the person is not even a basic fit.
The main goals of a phone screening are to see if you are in the ballpark regarding salary, and whether you meet the qualifications of the job. It is also a way to test your communication and interpersonal skills.
"Record yourself," says online, financial jobs recruiter Robert Graber, founder of HYPERLINK "http://wallstjobs.com/" \t "_blank" WallStJobs.com. He offers some suggestions to successfully make the first cut. "Listen to yourself on calls. Are you enunciating well? Do you say ‘like' or ‘you know' as filler in your conversation? Would you hire yourself based on your speech pattern?"
To take advantage of this door-opening opportunity, identify some mini-stories that will illustrate your results. Using a CAR story format will help you stay succinct and add punch. Because you are on the phone, you can have all your notes spread out before you on the table-ready to reference any point you wish to make.
The CAR format is: the Challenge you faced, the Approach you took, and the Results you achieved. For each qualification they list for the job, write down a CAR story. Use short phrases and bullet point each of the three sections, so they are easy to see while you're in conversation.
Call yourself and listen to your recorded message. You don't want a potential employer hearing your seven-year-old' s cute greeting, or a message such as, "Hi there. I am either out playing golf, fishing or at the bar, so please leave a message."
Graber has some suggestions for preparing for the faceless interview:
Don't use a cell phone.
Pull up the company web site on your computer in advance of the call.
Never put the caller on hold. Cancel call-waiting. Mute the ringer.
Keep your resume in reach.
Write down the names of those on the call as soon as you hear them (use a pad and pencil to avoid key-taps which can be distracting and might be interpreted as a lack of attention).
Listen to questions, don't interrupt. Avoid cliché expressions such as, "To make a long story short."
If you think you are talking too much, you probably are.
When ending, ask, "What is the next step in the process and what is the timeframe for your decision?"
Thank everyone by name.
Keep in mind that a phone conversation eliminates all the body language, image and facial expressions you would have in a face-to-face interview. As a result, you must rely on your tone and words to convey enthusiasm and sell your strengths. So be sure to ramp up your positive projection.
Don't forget to send a thank you note after your interview, even though it was over the phone. A letter or note still makes a better impression than an email, since it has a more personal touch.
Joan Lloyd has a solid track record of excellent results. Her firm, Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding. This includes executive coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, customized leadership training, conflict resolution between teams or individuals, internal consulting skills training for HR professionals and retreat facilitation. Clients report results such as: behavior change in leaders, improved team performance and a more committed workforce.