Guide to the Perfect Phone Interview
Fantastic resume submitted. Check. Now, get ready for the phone to ring! Acing the first contact from a recruiter or hiring manager is JUST as important as the in-person interview.
Here are 5 easy steps to secure your in-person interview.
1. Be prepared.
Get yourself a notebook and track each and every career opportunity you submit your resume for with the following information:
a) Company name and brief details about the company that make it an attractive place for you to work,
b) Position title and summary. Paste the position description into your notebook, highlight what in the description spoke to you and makes you the right, qualified candidate.
c) Know your resume. Know why your skills aligned with this particular job and be ready to speak to it.
Carry this notebook with you everywhere – you never know when a call will come in. Don’t be caught off guard.
There are few things that will set a recruiter off more than a potential candidate that doesn’t remember the job.
2. Time to Talk.
When the call comes in, and it will, evaluate your surroundings. If it’s not a clear, comfortable place for you to talk, let the call go to voice-mail OR answer the call and respectfully let the recruiter know that now is not a good time to speak, but you’d like their name/number and will call back in 15 minutes.
It is much better to delay the call for a few minutes, get somewhere quiet and collect your thoughts then to muddle your first impression with background noise or distractions. When you quickly return the call, be ready to talk in a quiet, disturbance free environment.
Of course, have your notebook in hand to be ready to speak to the company, position and your fabulous experience and qualities!
You may not always get to your phone when the recruiter calls. In that case, your voice-mail becomes your first impression – make it a good one.
Voicemail often gets overlooked, but it can make the difference between the recruiter leaving a message or passing you by. Things to avoid:
a) Music as your message. A recruiter doesn’t care that you love Beyonce’s latest single. (I do, but a recruiter won’t!)
b) Too casual. “Hey, you know who it is and what to do!” They don’t and they won’t.
c) Family greeting. While your daughter’s voice can melt your heart, in a career search try a more polished approach. Stick with a concise, professional message,
Try, “Hello, you’ve reached Sarah Smith. I’m sorry I’ve missed your call. Please leave me a detailed message and I’ll return your call as soon as possible. Thank you.” Short. Sweet. Professional. Love it.
This one is easy; no gum! No food! Nothing in your mouth to distract from your message.
5. Name and number.
Before you even start the phone conversation, get the full name and phone number of the recruiter or hiring manager you are speaking with. Don’t wait until the end because:
a) If you are on a cell phone and get disconnected, you have their information to call back immediately.
b) If in the course of the conversation you get excited and forget to ask at the end, it’s already out of the way.
c) If you don’t immediately schedule the interview during the call, you have their information to call back and check-in after a few days. But, do wait at least two days before calling back. And when you do, remind the recruiter the day & time you spoke and for what opportunity.
If you’ve followed these tips, you’ll land the interview without a doubt!
-Stephanie Goetsch, August 2010