We recently invited Kelli Greene, University Recruiting Program Manager at Yahoo! to share her insight and perspective as an employer on the importance of the phone interview.
It has become more common for employers to use telephone interviews (also known as phone screens) as a way of conducting first round interviews with candidates. Phone interviews are often used to give the recruiter a better understanding of a candidate’s qualifications.
A phone interview could be conducted by a recruiter, but are also widely used when a hiring manager requests multiple team members to speak with a candidate. This gives the hiring manager a more complete perspective and greatly assists with the hiring decision.
They are sometimes used as a way to reduce recruiting costs, or if a recruiting team is unable to travel due to project deadlines and/or travel restrictions. The practice of phone interviews are widely used and should not be misunderstood as a “short cut” in the recruiting process as valuable information is gathered during that first conversation.
A phone interview is truly your first chance to make a great impression!
Prepare for Your Phone Interview
While you are active in your job search, you should always be prepared for a phone interview. A recruiter or hiring manager could call at a moment’s notice and want to spend a few minutes gathering preliminary information. Here are a few tips to help you feel prepared for your phone interview:
Before the Phone Interview
- Do your homework! It is critical to visit the company website and review recent press releases, new product announcements, and key leaders. Should you be asked about a product or service that you don’t know about, be honest and say “I am not familiar with that product/service/event; however, I have made a note and will be researching that information for our next discussion.”
- Practice, Practice, Practice! Consider sitting in front of a mirror while you prepare for your interview. Your facial expressions come through your voice and practicing your opening statement with enthusiasm and a smile on your face will make a huge difference in how you are heard over the telephone!
- Be sure to develop a list of your strengths and an opening statement (also known as your elevator pitch) which should be brief yet convey your areas of interest and general qualifications.
During the Phone Interview
- Place your resume in front of you – highlight areas that you want to be sure to focus on such as:
- Professional Experience
- Key Achievements
- Challenging Projects
- Have a pen and paper handy for note taking and turn call-waiting off to avoid any interruptions.
- If the recruiter calls at a time where you cannot give your full attention, it is ok to request an alternate time to speak.
- Do not conduct your call in a coffee shop, library, or other public place where there will be background noise. Also, you may need to provide some personal information that you don’t want others to hear.
- Unless you’re confident that your cell phone service will not be interrupted or unsuitable for a clear conversation, you should consider using a land line.
- Do not answer any text messages, incoming calls, or use your computer while speaking with your interviewer.
- If your interview is pre-scheduled, do not be late to either place, or receive the call.
- Do not chew gum, eat, or smoke during your interview.
- Ask the interviewer for their full name and correct spelling.
- Use the person’s title (Mr. or Ms.) unless they direct you to use their first name.
- Ask the interviewer for their email address.
- Keep a glass of water or hot tea handy in case your mouth becomes dry.
- Speak slowly and clearly. If English is not your first language, this tip is critical as your interviewer may have difficulty understanding each word. If you are asked to repeat something, do so slowly and ask your interviewer if they need additional information.
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
- Take your time – it’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts.
- Give short, complete answers.
After the Phone Interview:
- Take notes about what you were asked and how you answered.
- Remember to say “thank you.”
- Ask the interviewer what “next steps” are in your candidacy.
- Ask the interviewer if there is any additional information they suggest you acquire, and learn, prior to those next steps.
- After you thank the interviewer ask if it would be possible to meet in person.
- Write a thank you note to the interviewer. This can be in the form of an email, or a hand-written note. Send your “thank you” within 24 hours of your interview.
- Note any questions or comments for your next conversation.
Kelli Greene has worked in the HR/Recruiting field for 10+ years and has experience creating recruitment programs for various Fortune 500 internet companies such as Google, Yahoo!, as well as the biotech industry.