Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How To Get The Job: The Dreaded Phone Interview

This series is inspired from my seven years experience listening to the good, the bad and the truly hideous interview. About half the applicants I turn away could have done the job and done it well. This guide will lead qualified candidates to avoiding major pitfalls on how to navigate the interview process.

If you haven't, feel free to check out part 1 of the series.

You got the call now what???

The Phone Interview:
First, congrats! You filled out the application correctly. You are a “YES” or a “MAYBE.” The stack of “No” is way larger than the stack of “Yes” and “Maybe” combined, so this IS an accomplishment, even if it doesn't feel like it.

Some Advice for the Phone Interview:

  • Know How to Sell Yourself. You may be truly qualified in every way to work at this position. That's awesome and we want you to have a chance to show it! The phone interview is NOT the time to be too diverse.
    • Pick 1 Amazing trait that gels with the job You will overwhelm the note taker on the other end if you say to many different things. He or she might not record the right parts of your sales pitch.
    • This is a Gate Keeper: The person calling you for this first pass is not the decision maker. It's possible they are 100% in tune with what the boss wants, but it's just as likely they are guessing. A clear message takes all the guess work out of it.
    • Make sure your Connection is Good: Your actual connection could be bad. Repeating the same message over and over gives it the best chance of being heard.

  • Pause and Wait for the Questions: Give your interviewer space between answers! They are writing down what you said, so give them time to do it. BE COMFORTABLE WITH SILENCE. You will be prompted if they want more information.
    • Keep it Simple: Too much talking muddies your message and you risk the interviewer writing down the wrong thing
    • Rambling is when people get into trouble. I was about to offer a person a job. I was just finishing writing my notes, but the person wasn't comfortable with silence while I wrote and said something negative about management at their last job—Huge Mistake. Sometimes less is more.
    • Silence shows confidence and control in stressful situations. The single BEST non-verbal que you can give that you are right for the job on a phone interview is wait to be prompted. It shows patience and a willingness to take direction.

  • Know Something about the Company. Know about the company you're applying to and how they like to run business. Are they most proud of efficiency, friendliness, quality product? Their web presence will give you a clue.
    • Be Positive about the job “Don't say anything along the lines of “it's a service job, they're all really the same” or “anyone could do the job” or “what you want is simple/easy”. If you do this you probably won't get brought in for a face to face.

  • Be prepared for situational questions over the phone. A few years ago we used to only ask generic questions, but present day we'll dive into the open ended “Tell me about a time X happened to you”
    • The answer doesn't have to be amazing but you DO need an answer
    • Feel free to use “off the top of my head” and other phrases that will allow time for you think of an answer.
    • Also feel free to say things like “give me a moment” or “I'm thinking” don't rush into an answer if you think you can do better.

  • Have some questions ready. They might include:
    • What does the interview and hiring process look like?
    • How many positions are open?
    • What is your ideal candidate’s availability?
    • I got the impression that quality x was most important to you is that correct?

Do this in the phone interview and Congrats, you'll get to move on to the in person interview. Feel free to celebrate! Next time We'll Talk about What to Wear for the best possible first impression.

Let Me Know:
-Anything you felt I missed or glossed over?
-Share a story of a memorable phone interview!
-Was my advice helpful?
-Do you have further questions or concerns?

Was this guide helpful? Help a friend and help a friend: share it please and thank you!

Update!  The Next Part of my Series Dress to Impress is now up, please follow here to read further.