Phone Interviews – Don’t Get Caught Out

iPhoneHave you been in a situation where you’ve sent off a couple of applications and the recruiter calls you up just as you’re stepping onto a train?  Unexpectedly, you’re about to have a phone interview and probably not in the best setting to concentrate. 

A level of professionalism needs to be given to a phone interview and your aim for this call will be to be invited to the next stage – a face to face interview.

So, how do you impress the person on the other end of the line?

We’ll start with understanding the reason why recruiters will call you:

  • They may be screening resumes for a particular job and want to clarify a few things in your application, such as technical skills, specialist knowledge or level of experience in certain areas;
  • It’s part of a structured process where a number of people are interviewed via telephone before moving to the “next round”;
  • Another purpose of this call is to gauge your motivation for this role and check salary expectations. They want to see if you’re on the same page so that there’s no big surprises at the face to face interview.

Here’s five tips to make sure you manage the telephone interview successfully.

  1. Prepare a cheat sheet of prepared questions and responses that you can keep on hand. List each of the roles and companies you have applied to, so you’re not confused about who is ringing.  Think about what the caller might ask and bullet point some cues on what you could say.  No need to write a novel – this cheat sheet is a prompt to give you confidence.
  2. Minimise distractions. If it’s not a convenient time to talk, let the recruiter know.  It’s reasonable to say, “I’m in a meeting; at an airport; in a shopping centre….can I call you back in 30 minutes or make a time a bit later on?”  However, if you ARE in a quiet space and can take the call then by all means do so.  This will be making their job easier by not having to follow up later.
  3. Be proactive. Sometimes a phone interview can come out of the blue in the situation where you are calling them up.  It’s a good idea to make a courtesy follow up call to see how your application is progressing, so be ready for any on-the-spot questions.  Better still, have some questions prepared for them!
  4. Stand up and project your voice. The recruiter won’t have any body language cues from you, so they are relying on the sound of your voice.  Be mindful to project extra energy and enthusiasm, and speak up if you’re usually quiet.  For more tips on speaking clearly in telephone interviews check out this 30 minute interview by Career Practitioner, Karalyn Brown and Speech Therapist, Esther Bruhl.
  5. Next steps. Always remember to thank the caller for their time, tell them you’re keen and that you look forward to hearing more about this exciting opportunity.

Having insight into why the recruiter is calling, understanding the role and company, plus preparing interview responses will help prevent being caught off guard when the phone rings.