For companies, the phone interview is a screening process. The hiring manager or human resources manager has a stack of resumes of potential candidates sitting in front of them, and their job is to wade through the stack and get it to a manageable number.
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Many candidates don’t realize just how much they are under the microscope in a phone interview and how closely the company is looking for a reason to eliminate them from the stack. Your job is to stay in the stack, or to qualify for the face-to-face interview.
Show them you’re worth spending the time to talk to.
They’re going to start with the basics:
- Are you in the right location? If so, great. If not, be sure to mention any plans you might have for moving to that location. If you don’t need relocation from them, that can be a big plus. It’s not always a deal breaker, but it doesn’t hurt.
- How fast will you be available? That’s totally up to your own situation, but generally, sooner is better.
- Do you understand the job? Are you very clear on what the job will entail? They just want to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Then they’re going to move into more specifics about your experience:
- Do the jobs and/or skills you have listed on your resume line up with what you can actually do? It’s very clear which candidates may have “embellished” their resumes after you talk to them for a few minutes.
- Are there any worrisome parts of your resume? Are you currently out of work? Do you have a big employment gap? Have you had too many jobs over the years? Be ready to explain. Keep it positive.
All throughout the call, they’re going to be listening to what you say and how you say it, looking for a reason not to like you. Don’t give them one. Be upbeat, answer all their questions concisely but completely, show interest, ask questions, and be polite.
At the end of the call, ask for the face-to-face interview. Say something like, “Thank you so much for speaking with me today. I am excited about this opportunity and think I would be a great fit. My skills in A, B, and C line up with what you said you were looking for. I would love to come in and talk with you in person about it. When can we schedule that?” There are lots of different ways you can ask for the next step, but being bold enough to ask for it is a very powerful way to get it.
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