Even in the age of rapidly improving technology, a simple phone conversation has the potential to unlock your next career. The answer to a few qualifying questions from your interviewer has the ultimate power of deciding your fate. Let’s face it, your either ending the conversation and being placed in the “YES candidate” pile or into the dark, endless abyss of “underwhelming candidates”.
Accelerator Objective: Interns Over 40 Insider is here to help you make sure you are put in the “Yes Candidate” Pile After A Phone Interview.
“Job Hunting enters a critical inflection point during the phone interview. To get the job, you need to present yourself well over the phone – say the right things, mind your tone, and be confident overall. To see how you can do this, read 10 Steps To Create A More Power Full Phone Interview”.
Phone interviews are frequently used by companies to save time by pre-qualifying your interest and expertise. The following are some recommendations to ensure your next phone interview is successful for you:
1) Know who your talking to. Before you schedule your interview, ask who you will be speaking with (write this name down). Most, if not all interviewers will automatically disqualify you if they introduce themselves and what company they are calling from and you bewilderingly ask, “Who Are You?” or “What position is this regarding?” To some this sounds crazy, but if you are currently in a job search, chances are you probably have applied to more than one job, from more than one company. Websites are KING. If you took the time to enter all of your personal information to apply online, or to send someone an email showing your interest in a position, you certainly have an extra 5 minutes to check and see whats going on at the company. Read a current event article, look up the name of the CEO or put a face to the contact you have been dealing with. This information is invaluable going into the interview.
-We suggest you do a little stalking. You heard us correctly, professionally speaking that is, know where to draw the line. Google some names , dig a little deeper into how they contribute to the company. Check Twitter, Facebook and LinkeIn and find common ground with your interviewer. You both went to UCLA in 1977? Great! Talk about those Bruins. Humanizing yourself is a great way to the heart of an interviewer, common ground is a great way to do so.
Phone interviews place you at a disadvantage because you only have one tool of communication, your voice. The interviewer’s impression of you is shaped by all the sounds coming through the phone. Insulate yourself from distractions and background noises. Do not have your phone interview when you are surrounded by a lot of noise like an outdoor café at a busy intersection. If the call is on your cell phone make sure the caller can hear you clearly. During the call standup, walk around and smile. All these things make a big difference in the projection and quality of your voice. Always be aware of any interruptions that the interviewer might have. Offer to accommodate them.
-Ensure network service for your phone is optimal, a dropped call is not going to help your cause.
-Make the interviewer feel like they have your full attention. Big No-No “Can you hold on. I have to ______________”
-When in doubt, ask to reschedule. If there are distractions that you just can not overcome. Give Yourself a chance, Call and reschedule the call!
3) Be Conversational:
If your interviewer wanted to speak to a robot they would be watching Star Wars re-runs instead of taking the time to call you. Repeating company rhetoric or reciting their mission though impressive, lacks the basic human component of a conversation. Find a creative way to show your skill set and knowledge and how it relates to the specific job you are being called for. If things start to flow in another direction about a current event or maybe the weather then take that as an opportunity to show your character. When the time is right bring the conversation back on track. It will show an ability to balance relationship skills and business.
– Relax. Being tense is not going to help anyone’s cause. If this means you need to practice in front of a mirror or friend , then do so.
-Remember the person on the other side of the phone can only judge you from what he or she hears. You’re attitude, demeanor, voice, and how the interviewer decodes it
will all play a factor. Consider cultural or geographic differences and how that may relate to your conversation.
-Like a Singer or performer, projecting is key. If you are slumped into a couch your voice and the energy behind your conversation will most likely reflect that. Stand up if needed, posture directly relates to tone and projection issues.
Often overlooked, is the need to develop a solid set of questions that show that you as a candidate are a critical thinker. (see suggestions on how to do so) The questions should ultimately effect how you are perceived. We aren’t here to say there is a wrong answer to any question. However, if you are asked “Do you have any questions about the position or our company?” and you respond with a resounding “No” of any kind; that my friends, is an incorrect approach. Negativity in responses in general are frowned upon, be a “yes” candidate, it shows pr0activity rather than re-activity. It also gives you a moment to build new elements of the conversation.
-Topic to ask questions on: 1) Company Current events (check the news, company blogs, even individual accomplishments) 2) Product or service releases, and how that would impact you as an addition. 3) Company Culture, how THEY like working there…what they do
and don’t like. 4) Your Skill Set, how are you going to contribute in their system. Set up questions so that you can build on answers and show how you are going to be an integral piece of the puzzle.
– Quality over Quantity, 3-5 questions. Sometimes you ask a question that require an answer in greater detail than a H.R. rep can provide. This is a huge OPEN DOOR OPPORTUNITY for you. Ask intently for the contact information of the service manager who does have the knowledge, at this point its up to you to be proactive and follow up to build a relationship by getting that answer.
5) Closing the Conversation
We like to think of the finality of what happens when the phone finally gets hung up. Ending on a positive note is forever important. Whats next? Are you interested? If not, maybe there are other positions that you fit. Build the relationship, this always pays off later. Linkedin, and contact information is a must, and will be given willingly if you have an excellent interview. At the conclusion, when all is said in done, ABOVE ALL ELSE, YOU MUST REMEMBER: Ask about the next step in the application process and what you need to do to get there. How you go about this is determined by the flow of the conversation, your confidence, and obviously, again, your interest in the position.
-Remember that your objective (during most phone interviews) is to secure a face-to-face interview. So to get face to face, offer your time to come in and see the facility, and meet with potential co-workers. You will be most effective discussing your background and assessing the company in a face-to-face meeting.
-Gauge your competition, if the opportunity presents itself. Why not ask about how you stack up against the competition? Sometimes their answer can give you a little bit more information about what they think about your candidacy and chances
-Thank the interviewer for their time, they have a lot of candidates. If you make them late to their next meeting, it’s probably not going to pay off. If you are concise with answers they will appreciate it.
3 Accelerator Takeaways:
1) Know who you are talking to and about what position on more than just the surface.
2) Humanize yourself and show your skill set by being conversational and knowledgeable
3) Secure face to face time with strong closing questions
-Host A Mock Interview with friend of Family Member:
Have them spring questions on you about the qualifications of your position. This is your opportunity to practice as a conversationalist, ending the reign of robotic interviewees! More importantly, prepare your questions and recite them OUT LOUD, sometimes they don’t sound as good as they look written down on paper. Finally, prepare how your closing. What are you going to say to secure that next step?
Suggested Phone Interview Acceleration Activities:
-Keep tabs on what jobs you apply for and when. Excel (or Google Docs) Spread sheets are an easy way to do so. Our suggestion for variables to track: 1) Company Applied 2)Position Applied For 3)Contact you spoke or emailed with 4) Date applied 5) Phone Interview take away’s 6) What Your Follow up should be.