Preparing to Master the Phone Interview
A phone interview is your gateway to the new job you’re looking to land. Your performance in this five-minute to one-hour call is the first step to landing the job you want. That being said, the best phone interviews leave the recruiter wanting to know more. But how do you do that?
Below, I will walk you through how to leave the best impression in a phone interview to gain an in-person interview for your dream job. Here are some tips for acing this entry interview.
1. Make a great first impression
First impressions are everything…and it’s certainly true in a phone interview. One of, if not the most, important aspects of the job search is the phone interview. Generally, this is the gatekeeper portion, because the person you speak with determines if you move to the next interview step. This person is your advocate, and the phone interview helps you get your first step in the door of the company. Simple ways to make a likeable impression via phone include:
- Smile while you talk. Look in a mirror to monitor what your face looks like which will give you a good indication of what the tone of your voice sounds like to the person on the other end.
- Be quick to laugh at appropriate times in the conversation. This will show that you’re friendly and engaging.
- Make a personal connection by asking how the recruiter’s day was and strike up a rapport. You could mention how you’re glad it’s Friday or just had a great weekend.
2. Know your (career) story
Practice running through the most important details you want to share from start to finish. What are some key accomplishments or aspects in your career/job history that will relate to the job you’re interviewing for? The recruiter wants to know why you’re a good fit for the job, and you need to tell him or her.
For example, I once interviewed a candidate for a recruiter role who went in detail about a position she had as a CNA (certified nurse assistant). It didn’t have anything to do with the position she was interviewing for, and unfortunately it didn’t show any of her recruiting experience. This demonstrated a lack of understanding about the role and was not an effective use of time.
You should be prepared with your biggest successes and succinctly articulate your story and how it fits with the role you’re applying for. This shows you’re prepared and have done your research on the role and the company you’re interviewing for.
3. Make every second count
Recruiters love when candidates ask questions, and high-quality questions about the company, role, culture and training programs are held in particularly high regard. When you’re prompted to ask questions, use the time to clarify any information you’ve heard during the conversation or are unsure about.
The questions you ask can often seal the deal for the recruiter on the decision about passing you on to the hiring manager (or not). But be careful: if you ask a question about information the recruiter has reviewed in detail, they could become frustrated sensing you have not really been listening.
4. Follow up
Sending a follow-up email directly after an interview of any kind is important. It helps to differentiate your candidacy particularly if you reference information from the call, demonstrate you’re excited for next steps, and use the correct spelling of the company and of the name of the person you’ve spoken to.
Attention to detail matters. For example, all four letters of our company name, BOSS, are capitalized. While it’s not a deal breaker if you spell it “Boss,” I do notice keenly when someone takes the time to make sure that small detail is correct and writes “The BOSS Group.”
One thing to never do is tell a recruiter to thank someone on your behalf. If you don’t have someone’s email, it’s always better to ask for it so you can thank the person directly. As a recruiter, I am always happy to help candidates with this personal touch.
Remember, the goal of each step of the interview process is to get to the next step until you arrive at the offer stage. You want to feel like you’re secure in the responsibilities of the position as well as the company and that you’ve relayed in a competent manner why you’re the best candidate. Now, go buy a mirror and practice telling your career story so you’re prepared for that next recruiter call!