In recent months, a growing number of my clients are getting follow-up e-mails from the internal and external recruiters, who conducted the initial phone interview, asking them to respond to specific questions. And, they request that those responses be e-mailed back to them in writing.
Behind the scenes, this often means the hiring manager is interested in your resume, has qualified candidates but needs more detailed information about your background and experience before deciding whether to interview you face-to-face.
As a candidate, this request is ideal. You get the opportunity to take the time to carefully craft your responses. Consider them as an addendum to your resume.
- Give them solid proof of your experience by including specific examples.
- State the result first then briefly indicate how you achieved it.
- Keep your responses short and to the point.
And remember, this is also gives them an example of your written communication skills. So take the time to carefully proof-read and spell check your responses before e-mailing them.
Review these questions carefully when you prepare for your subsequent interview. They may indicate what’s really important to the hiring manager too.
And, finally, think about whether you should add this information upfront in your resume.
This is the last of six steps to acing your phone interview and often the most difficult. Let any silence during conversation just be there.
- This is tough to do when you’re on the phone. However, being comfortable with brief silences will keep you from saying things you haven’t practiced and really don’t want to say.
- When you do break the silence, ask if the interviewer wants you to expand on anything. If not, ask an appropriate follow-on question.
Practicing all six steps will help you master your phone interview skills so that you can move to the next step in the hiring process – a face-to-face interview.
To sound professional, it helps to:
- Stand up so you remain alert and focused.
- Speak clearly so they hear your entire response.
- Smile because smiling makes you sound warm, friendly and approachable.
- Dress in interview clothes to achieve a confident, professional manner
- Avoid chewing gum, coughing or clearing your throat directly into the phone. It’s always better to excuse yourself for a minute if necessary.
- Practice beforehand with friends or family members.
Because it’s a phone interview, you can easily keep the following close at hand:
- A glass of water in case your throat gets dry
- Paper and pens for taking notes
- The job description and/or job ad
- Your resumé and cover letter
- Your prepared responses, including your “interview stories” with the key points highlighted.
Many people forget this simple step in preparing for their phone interview – Find A Quiet Space.
Tell household members the specific time and expected length of the call. Before taking it, remind them that you are being interviewed on the phone so they do not interrupt accidentally.
Keep pets in another room or shut the door so they don’t distract you.
Use a Landline is the second of six key steps you can take to ace your next phone interview, move forward in the hiring process and land the job you really want. And, it’s an easy one that most people forget.
It’s important that the interviewer hear you clearly throughout the call and that you understand exactly what the caller says during the conversation. Because cell and wireless phones can cut out from time-to-time or have static, use a landline for a clearer connection. Also, be sure to turn off call waiting and any other service that may be distracting by making beeping sounds.
Taking The Call is the first of six key steps you can take to ace your next phone interview, move forward in the hiring process and land the job you really want.
When a search consultant, recruiter or researcher calls unexpectedly, resist the urge to put them off. They’re busy making a lot of calls to find qualified candidates. Putting them off may mean they forget to call you back. So, take the call right away. If it turns out the job they’re calling about isn’t for you, be helpful. Offer the names and phone numbers of people who may be qualified for the position or of people who may know of someone who is qualified. Because you’ve been helpful, the caller will remember you in a positive way and feel comfortable calling you about other positions that may be more suitable.
If the call comes when you’re in the midst of something or have time constraints, let the caller know that. Ask how long the call might take. Re-schedule it if necessary.
When someone calls to follow up on your application or resumé, ask if it’s possible to schedule the call. This will give you time to prepare.
- Controlling the exact time of the call allows you time to find a quiet space where all your materials are easily accessible.
- Ask if it’s possible to get a copy of the job description before the call. This will help you understand the details of the position so you can prepare thoroughly.
- Always confirm the callback number, the date and time, the name and title of the person you will be speaking with and who will initiate the call.