It’s amazing how average job seekers are unaware of how to establish a positive first impression on a phone interview. Many employers of all industries and sizes complain that candidates who voluntarily submitted their resumes in hopes of discussing a position they are supposedly interested in just can’t seem to get it together.
The phone interview is where you make your first impression. Your voice and attitude are the ONLY things you have to go on during the phone interview. Negative examples and rude behavior are only amplified over the phone because recruiters take their cues from your voice and the voice tells all. A phone interview is to confirm what is already suspected. Based on the resume and the your social skills over the phone, recruiters just want to confirm your skill set and personality fall within the parameters so they can bring you in.
For the sake of saving time, resources, and money, recruiters have become much more selective on who they decide to meet in person. In an effort to weed out time-wasters and soft-skill-deficient candidates, recruiters are conducting phone screens to find out who’s off their game.
So what are those mistakes job seeker make and what can you do to avoid them?
- They are unprepared to take the call.
If you find yourself in a situation that isn’t suitable for a professional conversation, don’t pick up. Instead, call back within 24 hours, after you have collected your thoughts, speak confidently, and are in a quiet location.
If you are actively looking for a job, you should have a professional voicemail with specific instructions to avoid an unwanted game of phone tag. For example, “Hello, you have reached John Smith. If you are calling in regards to my resume, please leave your name and number as well as the best time for me to reach you.
- They expect the recruiter to fill in the blanks.
“Hi, what job did I apply for again? What company are you calling on behalf of?” These responses are the norm when an employer reaches out to a candidate, even for high-level positions. You are a job seeker, which means you probably apply to several jobs each week. We understand that it’s tough to keep track, but it’s essential if only for the sake of a recruiter’s sanity that you start taking notes.
- They conduct an unorganized job search.
Today, it’s not enough to print out a handful of resumes and call it a day. It’s advisable that candidates keep a spreadsheet of every job application they submitted with corresponding dates, company names, and relevant contacts. That way, when the phone rings, you will have a handy guide that will save you from playing guessing games. Also, it’s important to keep your background information and portfolios within arms reach to provide some quick material for preliminary questions. It says a great deal about your personal brand if you are prepared to answer a challenging question, and even have some on-hand stats to back up your argument. And for bonus points, don’t forget to browse company websites and connect with HR personnel on LinkedIn. Taking that extra step makes a huge impression.
- They don’t understand why recruiters really call.
More often than not, recruiters aren’t calling to simply schedule a personal interview; they are calling to conduct a prescreen. In other words, to decide whether they want to move you forward. Remember all that research you were supposed to do when you applied for the job? Use it to show recruiters you know something about how their company culture works and that you’re serious about the job.
- They have a bad “radio personality.”
Phones are tough; all you have to make an impression is your voice. Candidates, especially introverts, often fail to heighten their energy over the phone. Nobody’s expecting you to sound like an OAP but you should at the very least sound excited, confident, and prepared. Excessive “umms,” stammering, or sounding like you are dead inside are huge turnoffs to recruiters. The only way to overcome this obstacle is through practice. Record yourself on any device you have handy and ask yourself this difficult question: “Would you hire you?” Getting your career narrative down in a way that engages and connects with an employer is essential to winning that face-to-face meeting.
- They have a weak or unprofessional online presence.
Chances are, if recruiters are interested in what you have to say, they will be googling you before the end of your conversation. A half-complete LinkedIn profile or a racy Facebook picture is all it takes to eliminate you from the game.
- They fail to treat a phone interview with the same decorum as they would a personal one.
Just because you didn’t put on a suit or block out time in your day doesn’t mean it counts any less towards your chances of securing the job. Request follow up procedures, send personalized thank you notes, and be sure to highlight any takeaways to reinforce your sincerity. Please note the small things really do matter.
You should take your phone interview just as seriously as any other kind of interview. In this competitive job market, there isn’t room for any mistakes during the hiring process.