Phone interviews and phone screenings are a really common and useful part of the recruitment & interviewing process. They help recruiters and hiring managers make sure you are who you’ve made yourself out to be on your resume; that you are who you say you are and that you’ve done what you said you’ve done.
Usually, it’s really just a conversation (and a sanity check in the hiring process).
With that being said, even though it’s not a full fledged interview, there are still some ways you can really stand out, and continue to stand out in the next steps of the process.
The high level advice would be to just keep things simple–the main thing is to be honest. Don’t lie on your resume! You put yourself and the interviewer in a really awkward spot when you do, and nobody wants that!
There are a few additional things that you can do in order to stand out:
Make sure to do your research!
You applied to this company, and you should be able to talk about why you want to work there. Getting to know the company will definitely help you better articulate your own thoughts and feelings about the job.
What are their values & mission statement, what do they make, and how are they involved in the community? Most importantly, what does that all mean to you?
Have your resume in front of you!
Hopeful this one is self-explanatory. The person conducting the phone interview is definitely going to have your resume in front of them. They’ll be asking questions based on what they see you’ve written about yourself.
You might feel like you don’t need your resume because you know yourself and your experiences better than anyone right?
Please don’t risk putting yourself in the awkward spot of blanking on a detail and not knowing what the interviewer is talking about. It can (and does) happen, and it can be uncomfortable. So, let’s just avoid that altogether.
Prepare lots of questions!
This ties back into the first point of doing your research. Just looking up the company and reading Glassdoor reviews won’t give you the full picture.
This is your chance to find out what you really really want to know about somewhere that you might be working in the near future! You can think of the phone interview as a conversation. Having a good conversation means staying engaged, and staying engaged means asking meaningful questions.
You already know that the company is interested in you, so it’s time for you to do the same!
Some of my favourite questions are:
-“What do you like about working at The Company?”
-“What will my day to day look like?”
-“What state is the product in?”
-“Do you create growth plans for your employees?”
-“Can you talk to me a bit about the culture?”
If you’re asking questions, then it’s a good idea to also take notes about the answers that you get. Reviewing your notes and being able to summarize some of the key points in the conversation later on is a great way to show that you’re interested and engaged! If you get to the next step of the process, you can continue to stand out by expanding on these points in-person.
Be ready to talk about money.
Not all phone interviews will get to the point where you start talking about salary. But if they do, you want to be prepared. Do your research and know what you want to be making in your potential new job!
Returning to what was said at the beginning of this blog post–you really do need to be honest–say “I don’t know” when you don’t have the answer!
Yes, you want to impress the person on the other end of the phone. BUT when you bluff or fumble your way through a question that you don’t have the answer to, it’s VERY obvious.
It’s not a good look. Don’t do it.
When you’re honest, you’re sending the signal that:
a) You and everything that you’ve said is trustworthy
b) You have the confidence to admit when you don’t know something
c) You are transparent and don’t need to hide anything
If you think about it, aren’t those the exact qualities you’d want in someone that you work closely with?
If it goes well, make sure to convey your interest in continuing the conversation. You can ask about when you might expect to hear back, or you might even get to schedule the follow-up right then and there.
Make sure to review any notes you took, and ask any final burning questions before the conversation is over. It’s also a great idea to just point out something new that you learned throughout this conversation.
Don’t forget to thank the person that you’re talking to for taking the time to have a conversation with you! (And as general life advice, it’s always best if you remember their name and include it in your closing remarks. Another reason to take notes!)
Best of luck with your future phone interviews! Hopefully they all turn out to be great conversations 🙂
Continuing to provide recruitment insights into the hiring process, the next piece is going to be all about in-person and on-site interviews, so stay tuned!