By Alison Rosenbium
The phone rings. It’s a recruiter who has your resume and wants to know if you’re available to speak–right now. This is already a tough question. You want to be considered for the job, but you are not prepared or available to speak. How do you respond? Why a phone interview instead of a face-to-face meeting? What steps can you take to prepare yourself for a phone interview?
To Speak or Not to Speak.
If a recruiter wants to conduct an on-the-spot phone interview, and you know exactly what the job entails, it might be worth it. Recruiters often prefer to speak on the spot because they don’t want to lose valuable time. However, a recruiter should want to speak with you in depth about your skills too. Schedule an exact time so you can better prepare yourself Obtain their contact information before hanging up, in case your schedule changes.
Why a Phone Interview?
There are several reasons why a phone interview can be the first step in the process. First, if you are interviewing for a position that requires strong communication skills–particularly verbal (such as a Customer Service Rep. or Account Executive)–the phone is a good forum for assessing your abilities. Next, it can be a way for recruiters to gather information from you before even discussing a particular job. This will enable them to start qualifying you based on specific criteria such as salary or location. Additionally, phone interviews can save companies money by avoiding travel expenses.
How to Prepare.
The phone interview can be challenging because you do not have the benefit of “reading” your interviewer. Without the face-to-face advantage, there is a risk that either you or the recruiter may become distracted. Many of the following suggestions hold true for both phone and in-person interviews, and can help minimize disruption so the interview flows smoothly.
• Research the job and the company thoroughly.
• Compile a list of questions and have paper and pen ready to take notes.
• Practice with a friend over the phone and ask for feedback regarding your phone manner.
• Review your resume. Make notes of skills that relate to the job and how you can differentiate yourself from other candidates.
• Be sure you have a room available that offers privacy and is quiet. If you are at work, use a conference room or an area free of intercom systems and disruptions. If you are at home, ask someone to watch the children, calm the barking dog, and answer the doorbell.
• Disable or turn off call waiting and/or cell phones. Do not answer other calls during the interview.
• Be prepared 10 minutes ahead of time in case the call comes early. Likewise, be patient in case the recruiter is running a few moments behind.
• Prepare yourself as if you were going to a face-to-face interview. Dress professionally and sit at a table or desk. Being too casual (e.g., lying down or slouching) can affect your phone presence.
• Do not chew gum, smoke, drink, or eat.
During and After the Call
• Be upbeat and professional when the conversation begins. Phone manner can be interpreted quickly; illustrate your enthusiasm.
• Confirm that you both have a good phone connection.
• Point out specific accomplishments rather than reiterate information on your resume.
Credits Hudson River Career Resources
Good Luck with your Career Search– “Always remember, be prepared you only get one chance to make a first impression.”