While, in general, I’d prefer to interview face-to-face, the phone screen interview does have its place during the initial selection process. Here is how to use the phone screen interview process to your advantage as the candidate.
Let’s start out with some of the negatives of conducting the phone screen. First of all, the biggest thing is you can’t judge their body language. Body language consists of the facial clues and expressions of the other person and can indicate to you if you are getting your message across to the listener in a favorable light. It's the occasional raised eyebrow or the smile you can’t see. Certainly if you get them to laugh, then you’ve got a great clue that you are being well received.
The interviewer should be giving you their full and undivided attention, but I always wonder if they are checking their email, surfing the web, or playing with their phone. What you are looking for is active participation in the discussion, such as responding to your questions and engaging you in the finer aspects of the position that you are applying for. In their defense, they ARE probably taking notes, and you should be, as well. You just don’t want the click of keys overheard in the background.
So, if there are some important negatives to the phone screen process, what are the benefits? I think the best thing about the phone interview is that you can, and should, have all of your reference material spread out on your desk. Have a copy of your resume and the job description highlighted with key details that you want to mention about how your skills match their needs. Also, have the company’s website open on your computer so that you can reference business units and products and services they sell so that they know you did your homework.
I also like to have a list of my top four things that I want every interviewer to know about me during the course of the interview. In addition, make sure to have a list of prepared questions to ask the employer. Most interviewers at the end of the session will ask you if you have any questions. NEVER say, “No. I think we covered it all.” You may have some legitimate questions about the company or the job, but here is a list of some questions that I’d recommend you ask:
Try to get that first question asked as early in the interview process as possible so that you can tailor you answers to their questions around YOU being the ideal candidate. Leave them with the last question. They ARE going to have concerns about you whether you ask or not. If you don’t ask, you leave it up to them to fill in the blank with their own thoughts. When you ask, you at least have the opportunity to address their concern. Perhaps they have a misconception of you that you can easily clear up. That’s the best case scenario. Use the phone screen to your advantage and like the Boy Scouts, “Be Prepared”!
Your comments at the bottom of the page are always welcome. You can also write to me at my email address below and I’ll get back to you. Best of luck to you on your search!
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