Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Phone Interviews: How to "WOW" Employers

In todays job market many companies are resorting to the phone to help with the initial steps in the interview process. Hundreds of resumes reach a recruiters desk and it is impossible to interview everyone face to face. A phone interview is the first step for a job seeker to sell their self to a company, and a company’s first chance to screen the candidate.

As a recruiter it is amazing, and sometimes humorous, to hear some of the phone conversations I have on a daily basis. Many applicants need tips on how to sell themselves and prepare for a phone interview. This had me thinking about what I can do to help a potential job seeker pass the first step in the interview process! I have 6 simple and easy tips to help any job seeker land a face to face interview and increase their chances or getting that dream job. In this Blog I have the first three tips:

1. Preparation before the call begins

Before you begin applying to positions, make sure to clean up your voicemail. Many times a recruiter will not even make it to a conversation with the applicant because they have already formed an opinion based on the voicemail. Having a professional voicemail, which clearly states your name, one that is to the point and energetic will make the right impression. Think about your ring tone, as much as we like to personalize everything, do you really think a professional recruiter wants to hear Marvin Gaye “Lets Get It On” or “Baby got Back” as a ring tone? With hundreds of candidates’ to contact, it is essential that you make a positive impression with your voicemail. Recruiters will make note- Awesome voicemail, or horrible voicemail, not professional. Don’t sell yourself short before you even get a chance to talk with the recruiter. Make these simple changes and give yourself the opportunity you deserve.

Another important tip before the phone interview is to remember what positions you have applied for. Many times applicants will send their resume to hundreds of companies, not even realizing what qualifications are needed or knowing anything about the company. It is important to have conducted research and know why you applied for the position. It is never good when a candidate tells a company, “what was this position for again, I applied to lots.” So in short, do your research and remember who you are applying to. It is hard to get excited about a phone call from a company as a job seeker, if you are not excited about the position.

2. Timing is everything

When a company does call you, make sure you are not busy. If you are on break from work, inquire about how long the call will last. If it isn’t a good time to talk, let the recruiter know you are preoccupied and see if there is a better time to call back. A phone interview to some people may seem like a simple task, however, getting into a conversation that can affect whether or not you move on the interview process, requires your undivided attention. You want to allow yourself the opportunity to think and speak clearly without being distracted. Have you ever tried to talk to someone while watching your favorite TV show? I bet the conversation didn’t go very well. Imagine trying to give your best effort to impress someone while you are doing something else… probably not the best you can do. So when a recruiter calls make sure you are in a place where you can give your full attention and that you have a reliable phone with a good signal.

3. Be prepared to talk about yourself

This may seem like a no-brainier, but this is something many people struggle with. Many candidates ask me, “What do you want to know, everything should be on my resume.” This may sound silly, but this mistake happens often and usually isn’t something that impresses the recruiter. By knowing what the position entails, you are able to point out previous work history that would relate to the current position, for example: “ I noticed this position was seeking sales managers in training and I have had some experience that allowed me to utilize my sales ability. While with the GAP, I had the highest percentages of credit card sales for four months.” Knowing what experiences to focus your attention on will help with effectiveness in telling your background. It is also good at this point to tell the recruiter up front why you left each position.

Stay tuned for the last three tips to ensuring a face to face interview.