The phone interview is your first chance to WOW the recruiter. To help come up the curve faster, here are some phone interview scenarios you need to know how to handle.
If you are new to job search, there are hundreds of new situations you haven’t experienced before, like the phone interview.
Here’s a common situation.
Out of the blue, your phone rings. It’s someone from a company you supposedly applied to but you didn’t catch the company name or the job title.
a) Fake it and pretend you know about the job.
b) Ask for more details about the job.
c) Stop the conversation and explain you missed the company name and job title while you search for the cover letter and resume you sent.
Think about this carefully because how you manage the call can determine whether you move on to the next interview or not.
The answer is c. But how many times were you tempted to go with answer a?
You only have one chance to make a great first impression!
Making a great first impression is the only way you can get to the next step of the job interview process!
Let’s see if you are making any other mistakes…
Don’t Get Caught Making These Mistakes During A Phone Interview
1. “What job is this again?”
It may not be possible to remember every job you’ve applied to. The reality is, if you’re actively job seeking, you’ve applied to a lot of positions.
It is your responsibility to be able to track and reference the jobs you’ve applied to by job title and company. In a recruiter’s mind, the job they have to fill is the only one you have applied to.
It’s possible that the recruiter fails to mention the full job title and company name during the call.
Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for more information or to clarify the job they are calling about. Simply ask them to repeat what company they are with and the job title.
If you need to stall while you look for the resume you submitted, cover letter and company research, just let the recruiter know you are looking for the information. (You are showing how organized and prepared for the phone interview you are.)
2. Just Talk Loudly To Drown Out The Police Sirens
You don’t need to stay at home waiting for a call, but you do need to be aware that any call you answer could be from a potential employer. Be polite and professional when you answer the phone during a job search! You want to make the right first impression.
More and more, people are letting calls go straight to voicemail and recruiters expect to leave a message. So make sure your voicemail greeting is set up to mention your name and/or phone number so they know they’ve reached the correct number.
If you do answer the phone and it is a recruiter, don’t be afraid to ask if you can reschedule an unexpected call if the conditions aren’t right.
If you intend to have a phone interview in a public spot or in your car, make sure you won’t be distracted and can access your files with the job posting and the resume you used to apply.
3. Surprise. This is a video interview!
If you passed the phone screen and have another interview set up, make sure you know the format. Not knowing the interview format can cause you problems.
All you need to do is ask if the recruiter will conduct the next interview via phone or video?
While you’re thinking about the next interview, do you know how long your conversation is scheduled to last? There are no normal set of guidelines for interviews today. Each company has a unique approach, so it is up to you to ask questions in order to know what to expect.
Be sure to collect all the details so you’re fully prepared and perform your best during the conversation.
4. “I grew up on a small farm, love fly fishing…”
Don’t miss the point of your introduction. How you respond to “Tell me about yourself” can make or break the interview.
This phone interview question is technically the interviewer’s way of asking why you are qualified for the job and a match for the company.
Using your research, match your top two to four qualifications with the job requirements. Also, include why you are specifically interested in the role and company.
Keep your answer around a minute, so you don’t overwhelm the interviewer.
5. Nope. Not going to interview here.
Don’t jump to conclusions too early and reject a company before you’ve interviewed. Is the recruiter turning you off? Maybe they seem rude or unpleasant. They may be having a bad day.
Go ahead and have a phone interview and once you are done, dig around and find people who work for the company so you can get insider information.
Even if you hear some of the warning signs, words, such as “micromanage” or “toxic,” take the interview seriously and ask questions, such as, “Tell me about one of your best employees and how you supported their development? or “can you tell me why this position is available?” These answers should help you better uncover the company culture.
6. Dang. There’s that salary question again.
Do you know what the going rate is for the work you do? Expect an employer to ask how much you made in your last job and how much you would like to make in the job you are applying for. In fact, in many parts of the US, it is ILLEGAL to ask about your previous salary.
These screening questions help the company assess if you fit within their budget and what your value is. Stating a number too high or too low could eliminate you prematurely.
To prevent this from happening, use salary calculators and industry contacts to gauge what the company may offer. You could even ask what the company budgeted for the role, rather than providing your answer.
However, if your past salary or expected salary is not close to what the company is offering, you are better off deferring your answer until later in the conversation once you have a better understanding of the job requirements.
7. They’ll train me, right?
Don’t ignore the fact that you lack some of the job requirements. It is unlikely that you’ll have everything the company wants. And that’s ok.
You do need to have prepared an explanation for how you will come up to speed in the areas where you fall short. For example, if you don’t have specific software experience, you might at least know what it does. Talk with someone who uses the software and find out if the software is similar to anything you have used before, how difficult it is to master and where you can get training. Now, when asked about your software skills, you will be able to address how you intend to come up to speed on the software you are missing.
The same logic applies to any skill or experience you are lacking. Speak with someone who is knowledgeable and construct an answer on how you would bridge the gap. If the interviewer doesn’t bring it up, you can provide your skill gap solution anyway. You don’t want to leave issues that may eliminate you unaddressed.
Texting is a thing now
More recruiters are reaching out to candidates through text messages. This is a good solution for them and for you. You can respond when it is more convenient for you and the important message won’t get lost in your email so you’ll respond sooner.
Just make sure you use professional language and grammar (no text abbreviations or emojis!).
Red Flags Recruiters Look For
According to Smartrecruiters, these are the warning signs that a candidate may not be a good fit. Be aware and be prepared so you don’t make any of these missteps.
Lack of enthusiasm – a lack of enthusiasm in the interview likely means a lack of enthusiasm for the position.
No questions for the interviewer – no interest in learning more about the position and the company could mean no interest in the position or the company.
Distracted during phone interview – a lack of focus could mean a lack of interest. It could also be indicative or the candidate’s work ethic.
Negative comments about former employers – criticizing former employees shows a lack of professionalism. It also shows, potentially, an inability to take responsibility for professional missteps.
Too much focus on money, benefits and perks – If a candidate focuses mostly on salary, vacation, work benefits, etc. it suggests that they are not truly interested in the organization, which is not a good indicator of long-term success.
Other inappropriate behaviors – cursing, inappropriate comments, or other examples of unprofessional behavior are obvious signs a candidate is not right to join an organization.
This post originally appeared on USNews & World Report
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.