Phone Interview: Get Eliminated OR Invited

You have applied for your dream job and your stellar resume and cover letter have earned you a phone interview. Now your potential employer will like to shorten their list. That is typically what most phone interviews are all about. It is an opportunity for the employer to narrow down their 250 or more candidates to the best 10 or whatever the case may be.

More often than you think, most job seekers take the phone interview for granted thinking the face-to-face interview is what matters. Sadly, most candidates jeopardize this first chance to connect with their dream job by doing or failing to do some of the things discussed below.

So how do you make your first interaction with your potential employer count?

  1. Never agree to a phone screen on the spot unless you are super ready: In as much as we preach confidence, never be over confident as to take a phone interview the moment you are called even if you have been jobless for a year. Allow the caller to leave a message or if you chose to answer the call, agree to a better time. This permits you time to prepare – do your research on the company and familiarize yourself with the job description.


  1. Request an email confirmation: If you have applied for 99 other postings because your current employer is laying off people as easy as unfollowing people on Instagram, the last thing you want is make this desperation obvious to your potential employer. Please DO NOT ask which posting the caller is calling regarding because you forgot how long ago you applied. This is like asking someone out and not remembering their name on a first date. A better way of doing this without sounding like an idiot is to request an email confirmation of the time scheduled for the phone screen. Recruiters would typically have their signature in their email and this will give you some useful information – the company/organization or the recruiter’s name in case you heard it wrong over the phone. This is also a valid reason to not apply to every position you come across. And if you must because you are desperate to change jobs, always email the job description for every positions you apply to yourself as a reference. Remember to do it as soon as you apply before it gets taken down.


  1. Be professional: Remember this is not a call from your friend. Ensure that you are in a quiet place and remember to turn off your home phone ringer if you are receiving the call on your cell. You don’t want that telemarketing call to interrupt your interview. Sit at a desk, be hands-free and place your phone on the table to avoid dropping it and accidentally ending the call due to nervousness.


  1. Take advantage of the virtual medium: Take full advantage of the phone screen to earn an invite. Have the company site, the job description and even your resume open on your PC or laptop in case you need to look up something quickly. You can even google something quickly provided you can multi-task without coming across delayed in your response. Failing to take full advantage of the virtual medium and screwing up on a phone interview is like failing an open book test.


  1. Be personable: Phone screens can be a bit challenging since you cannot see facial expressions, body language and other cues. To personalize your interaction, note the interviewer’s name and use it as you discuss. It shows your interest in what is being delivered. Also ensure to sound enthusiastic and interested by maintaining the right pitch. Avoid sounding flat. Take notes and ask sensible questions based on your conversation.


  1. Send a thank you email: I personally feel a thank you email after a phone screen is a good way for your name and profile to linger longer in the recruiter’s memory since they cannot put a face to the name. Simply thank him/her for their time and re-affirm that you are more convinced to want to be part of their organization after speaking with him/her.


Remember, if it the job is worth applying for it is worth securing. Make every interaction with your dream employer worthwhile.

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