by Lenny Keitel
Given the fact that corporations today are running ‘leaner and meaner’ due to the prevailing high unemployment rate, it’s not surprising that the telephone interview has evolved as the typical first step in the hiring process. The objective of the caller is to contain costs and ‘screen-out’ as many candidates as possible.
What is the Employer Seeking?
With less than 30 seconds to make a great first impression, and perhaps 15 to 20 minutes to sell yourself, your strategy is to be well prepared with facts and performance that support your resume. How well you perform in a phone interview will depend on how well you can elaborate on your accomplishments and qualifications, and if they relate to what the employer’s requirements are. Your objective is to re-confirm that his or her instincts were right to call you — that you’re every bit as good a candidate on the phone as you appear on paper! The intent of the interviewer is to validate your:
Knowledge of the Company
Attitude and Commitment to be a Member of the Team!
Are you able to capably articulate your strengths and values to an interviewer in a polished and convincing manner? In a tough job market, the ‘bar is raised’, and consequently, so will expectations from corporate recruiters and interviewers. The interviewer can quickly ascertain a disparity between a captivating resume and a candidate incapable of ‘selling’ themselves and articulating their intrinsic value to a successful organization. Bear in mind, few people get hired solely on the basis of a phone interview. Your goal is to obtain an ‘in-person’ interview with the individual who has the hiring authority. Approach the call with a highly positive attitude. The phone interview allows both the candidate and interviewer to ‘test the waters’.
Should I Wear my Pajamas?
‘After all, I’m on the phone, and the interviewer can’t see me’! That’s true – however numerous studies have revealed that candidates who dress professionally actually convey an elevated level of poise and self-confidence during the phone interview. Consequently, conducting a phone interview in one’s pajamas isn’t a prudent move! Being too relaxed can take you ‘off your game’ and evoke casual responses! Clearly, this is a mental concept, but it will reinforce an upbeat positive attitude. Your seriousness about the job will be reflected in the way you dress and subsequently communicated by your tone and enthusiasm.
Getting Too Comfortable
Want to conduct your interview lying on a bed? Interviewers are quite intuitive and can easily detect minute vocal expressions and ‘grunts’ such as changing body positions or moving around. If you are smiling, the discerning interviewer will hear it in your voice! Ideally, using a telephone headset is recommended to free your hands to take notes. Alternatively, by actually standing up and incorporating the hand gestures you’d normally make, you convey a positive attitude and accentuate a tone which is more alert, natural and buoyant!
A Surprise Call
If the call for a phone interview is unexpected and you are not prepared or the timing is inappropriate, it’s perfectly acceptable to indicate that you have a conflict and propose an alternative time that’s mutually agreeable. Convey your strong interest in the company and the job position. Typically, most interviewers will understand and reschedule the appointment. If he or she appears inflexible, it’s a good ‘litmus test’ regarding the corporate culture to seriously consider.
Find a quiet, secluded room where you will be separated from background noises and any disturbances. You need privacy and a quiet location to focus on this immediate vital task to achieve your best result. Solitude allows you to concentrate on your responses and not be concerned about distractions or interruptions. Never schedule a telephone interview at your place of work – the risks are too high!
Know the Company
You have the unique opportunity to distinguish yourself by communicating to the interviewer why you are well suited for the position. Perform your due diligence by researching the company and fully understand its products, services, values, and recent press releases. This is a significant step to help differentiate yourself from other candidates and help establish how you share a ‘common philosophy’ with the corporation.To Summarize
All of this advice comes down to three important things to remember when you’re engaged in a phone interview – be PREPARED, PROFESSIONAL, and POLITE. This is your best way to make the right first impression and motivate the interviewer for a face-to-face interview.Â
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About the Author
Visit our website for a FREE copy of our “Job Interview Tune-Up Guide”. Lenny Keitel is a former Director of Professional Services and Information Technology (IT) with Fujitsu. Lenny runs Hudson Valley Resumes, a premier resume writing and consultancy service that differentiates our clients with a unique “signature” or brand. He is a noted columnist and has also appeared as an expert guest on talk radio. http://www.hudsonvalleyresumes.com (website), [email protected] (email) (845) 782-6714 (work/fax)