Bill Kaufmann, President,

The chances are very high that your first contact from an interested company about a job will probably be by telephone.  Why?  For the company, it’s quick and easy, no need to arrange meetings or schedules and there’s no cost, except time.  From the applicant’s perspective, it’s more nerve wracking when it’s a surprise.  The applicant may have to respond to questions “on the fly” and the possibility to “mess up” is higher, unless you’re prepared. There is no second chance.

Here are 5 suggestions to “Ace” telephone screening interviews:

  1. If you’re interested enough in a company to apply for a position, you should know something about the industry, sector, products, competition, and other key information.  Prepare file cards for each company with the position information along with key information about issues they are facing.  (Use small file cards so you can carry them with you) . Your way ahead of other applicants if you know more than they do when the call comes in.  Also, have at least 2 targeted questions ready so the screener is impressed with your insights, like, “What are the expectations for this function in the first year?” or “What are the items in my resume that caught your interest in me?”.  “Why are they looking to fill this position?”  The answers will prepare you for a follow-up interview and/or present you with the opportunity identified in #5
  2. When a telephone call comes in, try to schedule a time-certain when you can call back as soon as possible.  Most telephone screeners will understand if you are about to go into a meeting, or you have guests or are unable to talk at this time.  Make sure you ask for their name, company and telephone number, even if they say they will call you.  In the time between the original call and the call back, work through and practice your mini-pitches (see the GETTING HIRED series on the website on Mini-Pitches).
  3. Before the call comes in, make sure that your contact information is targeted to your personal telephone and not your business number.  In that way you don’t have to explain yourself at an awkward time.  Be aware that all of your public information is available to the screener, including Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and so on.  Inappropriate or misinterpreted data can end your chances for an interview.  “Google” yourself to see what’s out there in the public domain with a full internet search.  Change questionable information well before the call, even before applying.
  4. When in conversation during a screening interview by phone, have succinct examples that reinforce the results you have stated on your resume.  You know the questions that will be asked, so prepare responses in a crisp well thought out way.  A 30 second response to questions that state the ISSUE that you managed, the ACTIONS you took, and the RESULTS you achieved will provide the interviewer with the information needed.  Remember:  No question is irrelevant.  All questions relate to the needs of the organization and will give you some insights into the issues of the company.
  5. When you start to get a “feel” for the issues of the company, you may be able to engage the interviewer in a discussion about how you have managed or resolved a similar situation.  The more the interviewer can identify with you, then connect your results with their needs, the better off you are.  Many of the issues or needs of the company will show up with the research you uncovered beforehand.  The more you know ahead of time, the better you can respond to the screener and the better able you are to connect your prior results to the job that is open.  When this connection occurs, you will be asked to interview in person.  Then you’re a candidate not an applicant.

Lastly, an upbeat, positive attitude can be projected into a phone conversation.  An applicant that projects confidence and competence can be detected over the telephone by the screener.  Be that person and you will “ace” the telephone interview.

Take control of your destiny.  Be a candidate rather an applicant.  Join us at My Greener Future.

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By My Greener Future

My Greener Future is a Job Search Strategy and Career Coaching Company. At My Greener Future, you will be connected with industry coaches who care about you and your career as much as you do. They will work with you to create your very own custom career plan and support you in achieving your short term and long term career goals. Join My Greener Future TODAY and see how it will change the way you think about your career.