Category Archives: The Interview

Phone Screens – They can Help or Hinder Your Job Search – How to Rock a Phone Screen in 7 Steps

Christine Ramage, CHRP

Christine Ramage, CHRP

As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan you plan to fail; here are some ideas on planning and preparing before a telephone interview:

1) Before the call, as part of your homework, review your resume, ensure you are familiar with the job description and ensure you have a ‘success story’ in your back pocket for all the notable requirements of the job. You will be asked for examples so have them ready.

2) During the interview listen to the questions being asked, and answer them. Sounds simple, but an interviewer is looking for you to be able to demonstrate specific skills and abilities in an applicable way. Before you answer the question identify what base skill or competency the interviewer is trying to see if you have, then craft your answer to respond to the question showcasing you in a specific example. Questions are most often behaviourally based meaning the recruiter will ask you to ‘tell me about a time…. Respond by showcasing yourself through a specific instance; don’t be vague.

3)  If you’re asked a question you can’t answer, or don’t have experience relating to don’t be afraid to address it head on by stating you may not have had direct experience in the past – but make sure to state transferrable skills or experiences you do have in its place and how you can stretch or grow into that competency.

4) Keep it light and brief. Usually, unless you are speaking with the actually hiring manager recruiters tend not to have a lot of long term, strategic information on the role so save the heavy hitting questions for actual hiring manager during a face to face interview. Good questions to ask the recruiter are:  why the position is vacant?  How long it has been vacant for? What the next steps would be, and the timeline for the hiring decision. You can also ask about the reporting relationships, and the focus of the role or what key projects and initiatives will be key during the ramp up- don’t ask anything that is already stated in the job posting- it can make it look like you didn’t do your homework. Do your home work- research the role, the department, the history of the role, the major accomplishments by the company and anything of note in the recent news… be prepared to explain why you want to work for that specific employer and why you are a good fit for the role as well as the culture.

5) You may be asked for salary expectation and it’s a good idea to have a ballpark figure you feel comfortable sharing- if you are unsure of how to price yourself there are salary surveys and ranges available online to research, but remember these sometime reflect total compensation and may roll in benefits and variable salaries in them options. You can also say what your current salary is and that your comfortable staying in that range (if its true) and it’s a similar role.

6) Remember that the person on the other end needs to like you and also needs to take good notes so be conversational, friendly but don’t speed talk their ear off because they may miss some important info and be hung up by all the filler conversation.

7) Last but not least, embody the role; you need to sell that YOU can DO the role… Own it, be confident, and be prepared. Being prepared also includes being physically ready to take the call; ensure you have cell service and a charged battery, have water available and have your resume, and job description open in front of you in addition to any notes you may want to reference. Remember, you only have once chance to make a first impression- good luck with your career search!

Related Pages:

Cold Calls: Why Are They So Scary? by Michelle Yao

Agony and Elation: Searching for Work in a Turbulent Market by Nicole Davidson

Convince me That I Want to see you Again; Let your Personality Shine in Every Interview by Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Convince me that I Want to See You Again; Let your Personality Shine in Every Interview

Salary expectations company size and the names of the executive are one thing but where you fit in and in what capacity is something else entirelySome sage advice that job hunters tend to forget is that when you’re sitting across from an interviewer, your job is to convince that person you`re worth spending time with. Put yourself in his/her shoes: would you endorse yourself for that particular role?

I hear time and again that job hunters go into an interview focused on getting the point across that they love the company and really want the job. But is admiration enough to convince someone to hire you? Maybe not. It’s lovely, but it’s one dimensional.

Add depth to your conversation with a hiring manager by showcasing your personality. Have you researched the company thoroughly enough to know their culture? Salary expectations, company size and the names of the executive are one thing, but where you fit in, and in what capacity is something else entirely.  Enthusiasim is great, but organizational fit (the buzz word these days) is often a deciding factor in an interview.

For example, if the organization is known for taking clients out for dinner often, how does that fit in with your lifestyle? Having that kind of insight gives you the opportunity to express whether or not you agree with their conventions and whether you could stomach repeating them on a daily basis.

If you don’t enjoy taking clients out, the company may perceive you as anti-social.  But perhaps you don’t enjoy taking clients out because your approach to maintaining relationships is different; perhaps you connect better on the phone. 

It’s important to realize that your resume is an opportunity to prove that you’re worth investing in; show a hiring manager that you meet the company’s criteria for an ideal candidate. But once you’re sitting across from the person who can either add you to the company payroll or send you home with a lifeless handshake, it’s your turn to convince him/her that you’re worth spending time with.  You’re the kind of person that they want to see walking down the halls because **insert reason here **

Perhaps it’s because you save the company money by connecting more effectively with clients by phone rather than in person.  Or perhaps it’s because your casual approach means that employees feel comfortable being candid with you.  Whatever your personality, make sure the hiring manager understands how it makes you the ideal candidate.