Phone Interview Tips - #2: The Best Time to Set Up Your Call
You have much more power over your telephone interview than you probably think you do, including when to schedule it. If you can exercise that power, please do so.
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Why is it so important to control when you interview? First, you want to give yourself enough time to prepare. This phone interview is a very big deal. It is the gate that is going to get you through to the face-to-face. If you blow it here, you don’t get another chance. So you want to prepare and research for this interview very well. Second, you’re always going to come across better if you are able to schedule the interview for a time when you’re calm, alert, and focused.
Sometimes you’ll get a call just to schedule the phone interview, and that’s great. But sometimes you’ll get a call and they want to talk right then. It is perfectly acceptable (and really, it’s in your best interest) to say, “Hey, I’m so glad you called. I would love to be able to talk to you now, but I’m really not going to be able to give this the attention it deserves right at this moment. Can we talk tomorrow morning?” (Or whenever a good time for you is.) Every once in a while, you’ll be speaking to someone who thinks it’s a good strategy to catch people off guard, and this won’t work. If that happens, I can’t help you. You’ve got to talk.
Most of the time, hiring managers are pretty flexible when it comes to scheduling a phone conversation. It’s not that big a deal…most of the time. If for some reason they are not flexible, you just have to bite the bullet and agree to whatever time they ask for.
But assuming you get the choice, always schedule your interview for the time of day you are most alert and on your game. I personally would never, ever schedule a phone interview for the first thing in the morning. I need a little while to warm up first. On the other hand, I have a friend who is at her most chipper in the wee hours. So for her, earlier is better.
You might be stuck with asking for a general time of day to have the call, but very often you can request a specific time for your call. It’s just like setting an appointment for a face-to-face interview. You’d have a set time for that one, so it’s not a problem to set a time to be on the phone. In fact, it shows that you’re a time manager.
When you do schedule your call, make sure you leave yourself a nice big cushion of time after the call, in case it runs over. Some managers will tell you it will be a 10-minute call, and they stick to it. They have a set of questions, they go through the questions, and they’re done. But I’ve known many phone interviews to start off with a 10-minute time limit and go over to 20, 30, or even 45 minutes.
I just want you to remember that phone interviews are a very important step in the interview and hiring process. You’re not guaranteed a face-to-face interview just because they called you. But you can take steps to gain some advantages in this conversation, and timing is one of them.
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