- Created on Wednesday, 03 December 2003 03:04
- Written by Craig Lloyd
Since most interviews start with a telephone conversation how you handle yourself as a candidate in that stage of the process is important. Often this determines whether you are invited to meet for a personal interview. Remember, you only get one chance to make a good first impression.Whether you are engaged for only a few minutes in a phone screen interview, or scheduled on the calendar for a formal telephone interview, your goal should be the same – to encourage the employer to schedule a personal interview. If the employer is a plane flight away then all the more reason to gain a commitment.
Is your telephone personality warm, friendly, and personable? If you are not sure then try to listen to how you sound when you leave a message on a voicemail system with a replay feature. Sales people will often replay the messages they leave with customers or prospects to confirm the quality of their voice. You may not see yourself as needing a sales personality, but chances are there is some aspect of your occupation that requires superior telephone skills. For example, a chief engineer may tackle equipment issues everyday, but may need to coax a parts supplier - on the phone - to get a critical part to the plant ASAP.
The best tip is to practice smiling when you are on the telephone, as it automatically will come across the phone in an upbeat demeanor. Your ability to do that on command will pay dividends in a telephone interview. Smiling will also help cover up the normal amount of nervousness you may have in a telephone interview.
PEN AND PAD
A good telephone interviewer will confirm whether you have something to write on before engaging you in a conversation, but if they don't, make sure you do. Even the best listeners need the insurance of a pen and pad. Always start by writing the employers first and last name, company name and phone number down. There is nothing worse at the close of the conversation to have your mind draw a complete blank on the person's name, thus preventing you from using their name as you close the conversation. Also, you need to take notes regarding information gleaned from the conversation, you also can write points to insert into the conversation when appropriate.
THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
I usually suggest making a list of about ten operational topics for the personal interview. You can get that same list together prior to a telephone interview, but make a short list of about three to use on the phone. Good examples: Is the opening confidential, and what issues has the current / previous person struggled with?
THE RIGHT ANSWERS
If the employer has your resume in front of them, have your copy handy as well. You need to practice three types of answers:
- Paint the picture of your current /past work environments (volume, mix, equipment, direct reports, etc).
- Giving logical reasons as to why you changed jobs in the past. Volunteer names of past supervisors that will praise you and your work performance.
- Be prepared with 2 or 3 success stories that support your past performance.
IT'S A WRAP
How well you can read the employer over the phone will determine if or when you should ask for a personal interview. If you have given the three types of answers listed above and the employer has adequately described their need, then suggest the next step with something like “your opportunity sounds right up my alley. Can we make some arrangements for me to visit your plant” (facility, home office, etc?)
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