Job Seeker: Don’t Rule Out a Phone Interview

The interview process has evolved over the last few years. I recall interview processes only being an interview or two before the company made a decision on whether or not they wanted to hire you. With the changes in the economy and workforce, recruiters are now overwhelmed with a large amount of candidates applying to their job openings and do not have enough time to interview them in that capacity anymore. Therefore, the interview processes have changed into a series of steps, with phone interviews typically being the first one.

Being in talent acquisition myself, I spend most of my week setting up initial phone interviews to determine if the candidates are: interested in the job; interested in the company; and meet the basic requirements. I’ve been a job seeker before and, trust me, it’s a full time job in itself. Surprisingly, I’ve come across plenty of candidates that have decided against doing a phone interview because they were either in the interview process with another company or holding out for a company to reach out to them about their application. In those situations, I can’t help but shake my head. As a job seeker, you should be exploring as many relevant opportunities as you possibly can, especially if it doesn’t require too much time out of your day. You never know what can happen during your job search (or what WON’T happen), so it’s best to have your feelers out as much as possible.

I’ve seen plenty of candidates who’ve waited on a company to contact them about their application just to find out a month later that they were never going to receive that call. I’ve also had candidates hold off on interviewing with other companies because they were interviewing elsewhere, only to be rejected by the company at the final interview stage. Putting off other interviewing opportunities not only wasted time, but they also ended up losing out on opportunities because other available candidates jumped all over it. As a job seeker, you not only have to be aggressive in your search, but you also need to ensure that you don’t make rash assumptions about things. For example, a phone interview isn’t going to land you a job within 20 minutes, so you still can buy time in case the other opportunity you’re waiting for comes through. Or just because the opportunity or company isn’t ideal for you doesn’t mean other opportunities that are more of a fit won’t be presented.

Phone interviews don’t require too much time or effort and can benefit you:

  • It’s quick: phone interviews typically last anywhere from 15-30 minutes and will allow you to get started with the interview process without having to dedicate a ton of time to it. This is a way for you to determine if it’s something you would want to dedicate time to.
  • It gets your name out there: this is an easy way for recruiters and companies to get to know: you; what you’re looking for; and what you’re abilities are. Even if the job opportunity isn’t right for you, you’ll at least be on their radar for something else down the line.
  • You can learn about a company or opportunities: sometimes a job description or an “about me” section on a company website doesn’t do an opportunity justice. I’ve almost ruled out companies in the past based off of these two things but was pleasantly surprised to learn that my assumptions were wrong once I spoke to the recruiter. The additional details allowed me to determine if it was a right fit or not.
  • It can help you pipeline: Like I said earlier, sometimes the timing or the opportunity isn’t right for you at the moment. However, it can help you determine if it is a company you want to look into down the line. This can be a great way to build a relationship with the company so once you do feel like the timing is right, you can easily reach out to the recruiter and get the ball rolling.
  • Recruiters like to help: Let’s say you didn’t like the opportunity that the recruiter initially reached out to you about- that doesn’t mean it’s over. Recruiters often network with each other to see what each other are working on (internally and externally). If the recruiter you spoke to knew someone who is looking for a candidate with your talent, it is very likely that they’ll pass on your resume to the other recruiter.

Before you turn down a phone interview, think about all the benefits above. A thirty minute phone call can help you be even more strategic in your job search.

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Do’s and Don’ts for your Phone Screen Interview

The phone screen has become a common trend in the recruiting industry. Recruiters are constantly bombarded with an obscene amount of resumes on a daily basis. Therefore, in the search to find quality talent, they have resorted to initial phone screens to weed out those not qualified and cut down time. This initial option has become a crucial part of the interviewing process. Candidates must recognize that in order to get to the next step and land a job, they must take the phone screen seriously.

I’ve been a job seeker and I’ve also recruited before. Having experience on both sides has allowed me to compile some great tips and advice when it comes to phone interviews. Candidates- please take note of these do’s and don’ts. All phone screens and phone interviews should be handled with a high level of professionalism. If not, you could be struggling to find a company who will give you the right of passage to the second interview.

DO:

  • Treat this as a face-to-face interview.
  • Handle it professionally.
  • Be ready and available to take the phone call and ensure you have enough time available in case the call runs longer than expected.
  • Your homework: Research the company so you can show the recruiter that you truly are interested in them.
  • Be prepared and be sure to have relevant examples to display that you are capable of doing the job successfully.
  • Ask questions! Recruiters like this and it can help them clearly see if this would be a good candidate/job fit.
  • Get straight to the point. Phone interviews are typically quick screens, so be sure to state the facts quickly and highlight the things that can really show that you would be an asset.
  • Ensure you are in a good service area. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to decipher what the other person is saying if they are cutting out or dealing with dropped calls.

DON’T:

  • Miss the phone call, especially if it was scheduled.
  • Have unnecessary background noise (i.e. dog barking, children screaming, tv blaring, etc.)
  • Ramble about things that are irrelevant. The screen was meant to cut down interviewing time so don’t make it longer than it has to be.
  • Take a call while driving or outside. Find a quiet room or even sit in a parked car. You must stay focused!
  • Ask what the company is or what the job is when answering the call. This will make the recruiter assume that you have application-blasted a bunch of companies and aren’t completely interested in this one.
  • Have unprofessional ringtones or voicemails. That is a huge turn off and could cause the recruiter to question your level of professionalism.
  • Come off as passive. Be enthusiastic about this job. Make sure the recruiter remembers you and your optimism.
  • Chew gum or food while on the phone. All the recruiter will hear is you chomping and will be distracted from what you’re actually saying.
  • Take the call in a restroom. Toilet flushing is extremely unprofessional (and creates some awkward visuals).

Remember, the phone screen/phone interview is your way to get on the gatekeepers’ good side. It is an extremely important step in the interview process. This can either make or break your chances of getting the golden ticket to enter into the next round of interviews. As a candidate, it is in your best interest to not take this lightly. Just because it is not face-to-face does not mean it’s any less important. In fact, this step could be even more so because this is your first impression and could define you as a hirable or non-hireable candidate for the company. Make sure you do your best!

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