Phone Interview Tips – Win the Job

Technology is changing the job application process. More and more of the application process is happening prior to a face to face interview with a company. The days of pounding the pavement putting in walk-in applications has given way to the digital age. Now more than ever the initial phone interview is an integral part of the hiring process.

Online job boards are giving job seekers the ability to find and apply to a sea of jobs in minutes. If you are willing to store information with one of the major job boards, like Indeed or ZipRecruiter, you can actually apply with as little as one click. This opens up a world of possible job options, but comes with a few unintended side-effects.

  • Easy applications give companies limited information about the candidates applying to jobs.

  • The overwhelming number of job ads for one category on a job board leads to candidates saving time by simply clicking apply on dozens of jobs without fully reading the ads.

  • The average number of candidates applying per job has steadily risen. Companies lack the time to conduct full interviews to anyone except the most deserving candidates.

This is where the initial phone interview comes into play. Recruiters and Human Resource Departments need to deliver candidates, with the willingness and ability to win the position, to their Department Heads. Our clients want to maximize their time while talking to the best candidates. It isn’t unusual for a job ad that used to get a couple dozen applicants to now have over 100 apply.

When you understand the motivation for the interviewer it gets easier to handle the phone interview. Here are a few tips that will give you the best chance to get to the face to face interview:

  1. Treat phone interviews as professionally as an interview face to face. Too many candidates become very informal on an initial phone interview. This is perceived many times, by Recruiters and Human Resource Managers, as a lack of motivation to get the position.

  2. Give complete, but concise answers. Phone interviews are meant to save time for the company and applicant. We want complete answers to questions, but save long stories or personal anecdotes for face to face interviews. Show you value the caller’s time by getting to the point in the quickest way possible.

  3. Know where you applied and what the position entails. After the company introduces themselves on the phone you should know the position. Keep a spreadsheet, if you applied to a lot of companies, to keep it straight. Save the link to the ad with the description of the position. Hiring Managers and Recruiters are hesitant to move forward with a candidate that doesn’t remember applying for the job, or asks questions that were answered in the ad.

  4. Answer your phone when you have an appointment. Companies have limited time to hire and lots of people to consider. Many times the only way to fit everything in is for the company to call at an appointed time to the candidate. Hiring Managers and Recruiters move candidates that do not answer to the bottom of the list.

  5. Have your resume available at all times. A usual first step in a phone interview is to confirm basic prior employment details. Have your resume saved on your phone, tablet, and computer. Interviewers are looking for gaps in employment dates, and to confirm specific prior duties that match the advertised job. Many times Recruiters will want to give advice on the resume, and ask you to add specific information they know their client will want.

Best of luck on your job hunt!

Greg Gershman – Managing Partner – Recruitment HQ

Gregory Gershman
Employer Brand Ambassador at Recruitment HQ
Working with employers to help connect them with the best people in their market. Thousands of interviews and consulting sessions performed, that have given me valuable insight into how to attract, hire, and keep the best talent.

Find me on Twitter @hggershman

Specialties: Automotive recruiting, training, management consulting

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