Last night, I took part in #JobHuntChat – a weekly twitter chat that occurs from 8-9pm CT that takes an active role in the #ZeroUE movement. Recruiters, HR & business professionals talk with job seekers about issues that are common in the interview process. Last night the topic was “Phone Interviews.”
While there were some differing opinions as to what one should expect in a phone interview; I’ve found over the last 10 years or so that a lot of the questions asked in the phone interview are similar to what you’d encounter in a face-to-face interview. As such, I told the participants I’d do a quick blog post covering the general prep I give all candidates before they go to speak with the hiring managers they’re to interview with. I didn’t make this up; in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s been circulating the RHI/MRI network for years.. but it’s good advice.
THE EIGHT (8) POINT CANDIDATE PREP
1. Have a pad & paper with you during the interview… and use it. TAKE NOTES!
2. Print out a copy of this 8 point prep and reference it as needed… no one faults someone for being prepared!
3. Research the Company you’re interviewing with prior to the call.
4. Look into the role you’ve applied for – who’s held it before, where did they go, etc? Do your homework on LinkedIn & the web to see if it brings up questions that you need to ask the hiring manager. Do NOT take that opportunity to cold-call into their company to quiz the incumbent or team members of the former occupant of the role you’re interviewing for.
5. Dress for success. Even if it’s a phone interview and you’re unemployed; it’s important to dress to your shoes in business attire. Studies have shown that people function & sound differently when they’re in “casual wear” vs. what they wear to work. Talking in front of a mirror will help you as well; give it a shot on your next phone call -you’re more likely to sound distracted (or be distracted) and smile more.. which affects your inflection when speaking!
1. What are the Duties and Responsibilities of the position I’m applying for? (icebreaker question)
2. What is my #1 priority on an ongoing basis were I in this role?
3. Are there any other responsibilities not on the job description or projects in progress that I would be inheriting?
- If so, what’s the current status & project timeline for completion?
- What obstacles would prevent me from either reaching or completing these goals?
4. What are the short and long term goals set for the person in this position?
- How does your company, department, you as a hiring manager recognize success?? (might be 3 different answers there) I’m not just talking about doing a good job – I understand that “doing a good job” is a baseline performance expectation when hiring (because, really, who hires someone expecting them to do a BAD job??) – but, more of a ‘knock the ball out of the park’ performance. How is excellence recognized? (1)
5. It’s time to cover your Pre-Written questions.
- 10-15 pre-written questions you need answers to in order to determine if you want this job.
- Your short- and long-term career & personal goals. Knowing these will help you align your personal priorities with their professional priorities.
6. Salary. (This is the “TRAP” question.) -You are not allowed to talk about COMPENSATION or BENEFITS. Nine times out of ten, your current salary is covered during the application process. So, when and if the employer asks what your salary expectations are, respond by saying: “I completely understand that finances are important when considering a candidate or for me when taking a role. However, I’d respectfully ask to table the money conversation for now while we determine if there’s a good initial fit. I’m confident that if there is, we can figure out a way to make the money work; but if there’s not, then we’ve spent 5-20 minutes discussing something that won’t end up meaning anything, anyway.” – I’ve never, in my entire recruiting career, had a candidate or employer balk at this when utilized.
7. YOU HAVE TO CLOSE! As much as we’d like to believe otherwise at times, both sides are selling themselves in an interview. With any sale, there’s a “close.” You need to ask closing questions:
“Based on our conversation, do you feel as though I have the qualifications necessary to successfully perform in this role?”
- If the answer is “Yes” then great! Ask what the next step in the process is.
- If the answer is “No” or there is hesitation; don’t yet despair! Ask where the disconnect is. Listen to the Hiring Manager and take notes. When finished with that reason, simply say, “Okay, I hear you… is there anything else that you feel would keep me from successfully performing this role?” Continue this process until the answer is “No.”
Then take a quick glance back at the list. This is your opportunity to answer any objections that the hiring manager has just told you – if you have an answer, great. If not, then try this “Are those things which could be negated through a solid training program during on-boarding or are they mission-critical to hit the ground running with?” If the answer is anything other than “Gotta have it now”… then ask what the next step is in the process (get their timeline).
If Hiring Authority says, “I’m looking at other people.” You say, “How do my qualifications match the people you’re considering?”
8. Follow-Up. Make SURE you get their timeline for when you should hear back from them; and let them know that you understand things get busy… ask if you can follow-up with them if you haven’t heard back by the time outlined.
After your phone interview, reflect on what was discussed and look up anything needed to respond back w/ the person with whom you’ve interviewed. Send a follow-up email (no more than 3 short paragraphs) thanking them for the time, summarizing why you think you’re right for the role, and let them know you’re looking forward to speaking at [insert specified time here]. Email this to them & anyone else that might have been in on the call.
Good Luck to You on Your Phone Interviews!
(1) This is important to ensure that a) they have a rewards & recognition program and b) their method of recognition is in line with how you need to receive praise (words of affirmation, time off, money/products, etc…)