“The phone interview is where you make your first impression. Your voice and attitude are the ONLY things I have to go on during the phone interview. Negative examples and rude behavior are only amplified over the phone because I take my cues from your voice, and the voice tells all.”
You have sent out your resume, and are now waiting for the call from a recruiter.
As a guy that has called on hundreds of candidates, I thought it might help to let you know what myself and most recruiters are thinking as I go through the process. Some of this won’t be admitted to publicly, but trust me, it happens, and this is why I wear a mask and dark glasses.
If your online profile checks out, my next step is either a phone call or email, depending on my timeline.
When I call a candidate for a phone interview, I am looking for a couple of things:
- I want someone to answer the phone when I call. I don’t want to leave a message. If you have caller ID and don’t recognize a number, PICK IT UP!!!! That could be your next employer calling.
- I am on a timeline to fill this position with hiring managers breathing down my back. If you are calling the hot girl or cute boy, you wouldn’t want to follow-up or leave a message. I don’t either.
- If I get a message, I want it to be a message that would be appropriate within our business setting. I don’t want to hear Rod Stewarts “Do ya think I’m sexy” and a beep. I don’t want to hear an automated voicemail that has your +1 yelling in the background or some cutesy message where you are saying “Hello? Hello? I can’t hear you”.
- If I am going to leave a message, I want to know I called the right person. Your message should confirm who I called. I want something polite, energetic, and is just that, “a message”. Nothing more, nothing less.
I totally understand that if you are currently working or going to school, you are probably not going to pick up the phone between 9 am and 5 pm. We all have lives and we are all busy people. That being said, please do everything you can to call me at your break or your lunch. I am not expecting to interview you for 30 minutes at that minute. I just want to know that you received the phone call and schedule a time to talk. I literally want to know if you exist and are still looking for new opportunities.
If I do get a real person, I want to hear something that would be business appropriate and would delight our customers. Yes, I said it, “delight”. I want to hear a smile come through the phone, I want to hear energy, and would love to hear the candidate announce their first name. A flat hello followed by silence is not business appropriate and although I won’t hang up immediately, the clock is ticking and the conversation hasn’t even started.
This is my very first impression of you, and within 5 seconds I am trying to figure out if I can bring you in to the office without embarrassing myself. Remember, you are going to be representing me. I am going to put my reputation on the line for you when I present you to the hiring manager, so I have to figure out if you are “with me”, or “not”.
In an effort to minimize my disappointment on this initial call, I will announce myself and give you a hint. I will literally say something like this: “My name is HRNasty and I work with a company called Acme Publishing. You applied for a position with our sales group and I was wondering if you were still looking for new opportunities. I realize I am calling un announced, is this a good time?”
I don’t know how many times I get the following even after I introduce myself per the above. I often hear:
- “Uh Huh”
- “What did you say?”
- “You finally called, what took you so long?”
So many people answer the phone as if they are expecting a telesales person. With any one of the above answers, the interview is over. Why? Because at our company, we want people to answer every phone call like it is a customer on the line. We shouldn’t have to train someone on how to answer a phone.
Great answers sound like:
- “Thank you for calling, I have been really excited about this opportunity since I first heard about it.”
- “Yes, this is a great time. I have heard so many great things about your company!”
- “Thanks for calling, can you give me one minute, I want to move to a quieter place.”
- “Thank you for calling. I am at a restaurant; I am in a meeting, can I call you right back in 15 minutes? I am really excited to talk about the opportunity.”
Sounds corny as I write it, and sounds cornier as I read it back, but trust me, this stuff works. The tone has been set and here is why:
- I don’t feel like I have to explain myself
- I feel welcome
- I feel like I have someone who isn’t just looking for a job, but wants to be with ACME Publishing.
See the theme in the two sets of bullet points? Excitement has been conveyed by the candidate and the words “I feel” from me.
When you called your first high school crush, and the answer was positive and welcoming, “Game on!” If she said “I am so happy you called, I was hoping I would hear from you” the tone was set for the rest of the conversation. When you called your first crush and got the “yeah, what do you want?” regardless of your crushes “intent”, the “impact” was felt.
Make me feel like your first crush.
Like any phone interview, I will have a few standard questions. You should know these are coming and be prepared:
- Can you tell me what you know about the company. (This is a test which will prove how interested you are in our company. If you can’t tell me anything, that is an indication there was no interest.)
- What are you looking for in a new position?
- How much are you looking for? ( I want to know if we are in the same ballpark financially)
- When can you come in to talk? (Hint, if you are really interested, you will move your schedule)
- When the hot girl called you up for a date, you dumped mom’s Sunday dinner to make hook up if needed.
After you get off the phone interview send a thank you email. Send it postal mail to the attention of the recruiter if you didn’t get the email address.
If you are asked to come in to interview in person (congratulations!). Send a thank you email including the following:
- Reinforce that you are excited about the opportunity
- Confirm the time and date of your interview
- Keep it short
- ask about benefits
- ask about pay (the recruiter will ask about this)
- ask about vacation, parking, time off
See the theme? At this point, the conversation is about me. This phone call isn’t about the candidate “yet’. Don’t get me wrong, I am trying to sell you, but the candidate should be selling their interest in the position vs. their interest in the benefits.
What to ask in a phone interview
- What do you like about the company?
- What attracted you to the company?
- Any advice for me? (you will be surprised how easy this is, remember, you represent me)
- How did this position become open? Is it a new position? (Don’t ask if someone got fired)
This interview will probably be short. The recruiter will make a pretty quick decision based on your social profile, blog, and profile picture, and this conversation whether or not they feel you will be a “fit”. Help them keep it short.
A phone interview is to confirm what is already suspected. Based on the resume and the your social skills over the phone, I just want to confirm your skill set and personality fall within the parameters so I can bring you in.
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.