by Paula Barrios Sanchez
Exploring new job opportunities in the current workforce market requires you to not only showcase your experience but to do so in different settings and contexts. Technology and social media have transformed the recruitment and selection market dramatically and every step of the application process counts.
Today, recruiters can quickly manage a large volume of candidates with algorithm and filter enhanced application systems, allowing them to create a shortlist of suitable candidates for a brief phone interview. This phone interview serves as an additional data point intended to evaluate which of these candidates should be included in the even more targeted pool of candidates that will be talking face-to-face or virtually with the hiring team.
If you reach this stage of the process, we know that thinking about receiving a call from a recruiter can drum up concern and anxiety, even more so if you have only had experience with face-to-face interviews. But, don’t fret! This is a good opportunity to learn relevant tips to be prepared to crush that virtual interview. Understanding that every step in the process counts can help you move one step closer to that amazing work prospect you want.
Let’s deep dive into some recommendations you can evaluate before your next phone interview:
Before “The Call”
· Many people prefer not to answer calls from unknown numbers, so having an appropriate voice message greeting and space to leave a voice mail on your phone is a must to provide a good first impression. In your VM greeting, introduce yourself (e.g. “This is Sally Smith”) and follow up with a polite request for the caller to leave the specific contact details you require.
· If you are the kind of person who always answers your phone, whether you know the caller or not, be prepared to choose one of these options if you receive an unexpected call from a recruiter:
o a) Politely explain that you will be happy to connect again at another more convenient time;
o b) If you feel ready to discuss details about this job opportunity right away, ensure your surroundings are appropriate for your conversation and be ready to answer the initial questions from the recruiter, keeping in mind your value proposition elevator speech.
Remember that the environment where you take this type of call can be a positive or negative influencer in the outcome. A quiet place where you feel comfortable to speak and share your ideas will be a great starting point. Headphones come in handy in cutting down background noise and, depending on the signal of your phone, may help the interviewer hear you better.
· If you have the chance to schedule the phone interview in advance take some time to research more details about the company, your interviewer’s profile (in LinkedIn, if available), and have your cheat sheet ready with all important notes to guide you during the interview.
· As they say, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, so, if you are responding to a recruiter email request to schedule a phone interview, make sure your reply is pristine, straightforward and polite. Show you’re interested and responsible by getting back as soon as possible and no later than the same day. Always double-check:
o The time you select. Avoid scheduling the interview in between a day you are back-to-back in meetings or activities that make you feel time constrained and be sure you are not double-booked with previous commitments.
o The information you’ve provided. One of the most common mistakes people encounter is having typo mistakes in their phone numbers, and in many cases, not realizing it until the last minute. If a mistake was made from your side, just breath deeply and resend the information ASAP.
During “The Call”
· Phone interviews require a different understanding for developing rapport than a face-to-face conversation. Non-verbal language is less evident but how our voices project our thinking and feeling can come through the phone. The tricky part is that our brain tends to fill in blanks — times 2 in a conversation. So be prepared to master:
o Your Elevator Pitch — What experiences, knowledge and strengths makes you unique for this opportunity. You can also have any additional material that make you comfortable in front of you such as your resume, job description, LinkedIn profile, etc. Just make it comfortable and simple for you to manage it.
o Listen actively — The objective of the recruiter is to get as much information as possible from this conversation before deciding the next step (another call, possible interview with other people, etc.). So be prepared to listen actively — meaning, paraphrasing what you heard to confirm you understood the question, asking more details or for clarifications if you don’t understand, answering shortly and clear with your responses. You can always take notes and come back with questions during, or at the end of, the interview. Avoid interruptions and distractions during the call. Let the person interrupt you if more or different information is needed from their side.
o Speak professionally and at the right pace — Stressful situations tend to make people speak more quickly than they realize and can lead to tripping over words and, ultimately, not sounding prepared or professional. This is more so when you can’t check the other person’s non-verbal and visual cues; so, remember to keep your feelings aligned to your conversation, this means slow down and make pauses as required.
o Mutual exchange of information — Be ready to ask the questions you feel are relevant to give you more understanding of this opportunity (job content, location, benefits, etc.), but be prepared to have time to only ask the most important ones for you before the call ends. Recruiters tend to monopolize the time spent with you.
o Ending the call with clear next steps — Expectations are different for every individual but in general candidates always want to know what is coming next at every step of the recruitment process. So, if you are nearing the scheduled end of the call (i.e. think “last 5 minutes”), this is a good time, if it hasn’t already been addressed, to politely ask the recruiter what to expect after this call.
After “The Call”
· Take a little time to reflect about the experience, what worked well for you, what you would like to do differently next time. Review your notes and check if you have additional questions you want to ask the recruiter off-line or if there is additional research you want to do for the next step in the process.
· Always send a post-interview thank you. Every time you speak to someone new during the job interview process (phone, virtual or face-to-face), you should thank them for their time. A short and polite thank-you email to the person who interviews you is always in fashion. Send it within a few hours after the interview.
We wish you all the best in your next virtual/phone interview!
Paula Barrios Sanchez is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Positive Human Factor where she builds and implements powerful people strategies across multiple industries. Her support of amazing.community has been invaluable.