Many applicants are apprehensive with a telephone-screening interview. It’s awkward: You can’t see the person your speaking with, there are no physical cues as to how you are coming across, the time is limited, the conversation is usually one sided and you can’t ask a lot of questions. Also, you’re probably not talking directly to your potential boss.
However, telephone-screen interviews are here to stay and are being replaced with an electronic interview like Skype that can be even more intimidating. Telephone screening gives the employer an inexpensive and quick way to talk with a great number of people. So if all of your peers are being interviewed by phone, the question is: How can you interview better than everyone else? Here are five tips to consider:
- Defer your conversation. Most interviewers will call or email to set up a mutually convenient time to talk. If the interviewer wants to talk immediately, have reasons why now is not a good time. Get a time-certain when they will call back. Use the intervening time to prepare your research for the interview. Make sure to get their name, company and phone number.
- Research the company, industry and people. Once you know the company name, research the sector, industry, financials, products, competition and other key information. You want to know as much about them as they know about you (as they have your resume). Google the key people to find out where they came from, what they did and the issues the company faces.
- Prepare your technology, notes, and environment. Use a landline telephone if possible, as it’s more dependable and clearer. Practice interviewing by phone with a mentor. Take the top 5 items on the position description and match them with your results that demonstrate your competence. Use “Post-its” and put them on your computer screen to act as a script. Make sure you’re in a quiet environment without distractions.
- Responding to questions.The basic questions are: “What did you do?” “How did you do it?” “What were the results?” for each item on your resume. Give examples that reinforce your experiences. Within 30 seconds, outline the issue you encountered, the action you took, and the outcome you achieved. Talk about alternatives they might consider for a solution. Become a problem solver in their eyes.
- Ask questions of your own.Prepare at least 2-targeted questions to impress the interviewer, like, “What are the expectations for this function in the first year?” or “What are the issues that need to be solved?” You now become a businessperson looking for results to contribute to the goals of the department or company.
Lastly, be upbeat and positive with a can-do attitude. The screener can detect an applicant that projects confidence and competence.
Take control of your destiny. Be a candidate rather an applicant.
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