Your resume looks terrific on paper. The telephone interview is next, which may be the first and last communications you’ll have with the hiring organization. A company uses the telephone interview because it’s quick, easy and cheap. From all of the resumes received, it boils down to 10 or 15 applicants who will receive a telephone screening call. Usually, out of the top 10 or 15 calls, only the best 2 to 5 will be interviewed in-person.
So, how do you stand out from your peers with a compelling telephone interview?
Common sense rules: Here are some rules that should be obvious.
- Use a landline phone if possible. Cell phones are problematic.
- Don’t eat, smoke, chew gum or be distracted in any way. Find a quiet place.
- Give focused answers to questions. Don’t ramble. Speak clearly and slowly
- Reinforce your interest in the position and your desire for a face-to-face interview.
- When finished, thank the interviewer for their time and information
- Follow-up with a thank you note
Smart strategies: Here are some additional thoughts:
- When talking on the phone, smile. It will transmit over the wires in a positive way.
- Prepare for the phone interview beforehand. Create 3×5 index cards for each contacted company (easier than computer access). Note the company and the research information developed. Include: Company profile, financials, competitors, industry issues, and other pertinent information to demonstrate your knowledge and interest. Keep your resume handy. You want to know the origin of the questions asked.
- Create a series of mini-pitches for every item on your resume. A mini-pitch is a 20 to 30 second summary of each item on the resume. Since the resume is the only document they have, it’s the source of all questions. Mini-pitches will focus on: The Issue, Action and Outcome for each item. Practice your mini-pitches without it being scripted. Have a crib sheet with key words for your mini-pitches.
- Create a note of each question asked. The second question on a subject is usually the key one, as it will convey the real issue of the hiring organization. Develop alternative solutions to questions that are posed.
- Prepare for the non-resume questions, like: “Tell me what’s important to you?”, ‘What are your assets and liabilities?”, “What are your longer-term goals?”, “Why should we hire you over all others?”, and so on.
- Be prepared with questions of your own. Never respond that you have no questions. It shows a limited mind. Your questions should be about the open position and the expected performance, plus key issues that require resolution within the first year.
Telephone screening interviews are like a tryout for a team. Your performance will determine whether you’re going to be invited to meet with the coach, or in this case the hiring manager. You increase your chances for a face-to-face interview through the preparation and understanding of the telephone interview.
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