It’s several months since you began sending out your resume – formally applying for jobs. At this point, it’s been so long you’ve forgotten to whom you’ve applied. Late one afternoon, your phone rings. It’s a hiring pro or recruiter wanting to do a pre-interview phone screening.
You’re shocked. And more importantly unprepared. When the brief conversation is over you’re sure you’ve blown it. You know the hiring pro will not call you back.
More and more hiring pros, recruiters and decision-makers are screening applicants – by phone especially during the coronavirus – before wasting time putting someone through what could be a long interview process; even if it is through Zoom.
That said, consider every call you receive from a hiring pro or recruiter a dress rehearsal for a formal interview.
7 Simple Hacks for Professionally Handling a Pre-Interview Phone Screening:
1) If you’ve done your research on companies you’ve applied to:
Have a folder for each one set up and accessible should the phone screening call come. This will allow you to easily, and quickly, refer to company info plus to the tailored resume you sent.
2. Since you aren’t speaking face to face with the caller, concentrate on letting your personality shine through.
Top hiring pros say you should make every effort to sound personable and friendly – but not overly friendly. The caller has only the sound of your voice, and information you share, to make an informed decision to set a formal interview. Psychologists tell us the sound of your voice can convey many things – both good and bad. This call may determine whether you get an interview or not.
Make a serious effort to speak calmly, clearly, professionally. Don’t raise your voice, get sarcastic or sound bored. Nor sound as if in a hurry. You must sound interested.
3. Avoid short answers like ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
These effectively close off additional conversation on almost any topic. A screener may find it difficult to respond thus causing them to pick up a negative rather than positive vibe. Remember, simply responding with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ provides no actual insight into you and your potential value to a company.
For example – ‘Yes, I agree. Here’s how I handled that situation in the past….’ Or – ‘No. How I would handle that is…..’ Using this method not only provides more insight into why you’ve said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ it also allows the screener to move forward with other questions instead of quickly ending the call because of your disinterest or inability to show you qualify for the job.
4. Be aware of coming across aggressively.
Steer clear of words which give the impression of controlling. For example – ‘I must know…’; ‘I expect to be shown (or told)…..’. Within reason, allow the interviewer to take the lead.
5) Always stand when doing a phone interview.
Standing allows you to breathe deeply and speak from your diaphragm – which allows for more powerful, confident speaking. In short you will be more expressive than in a sitting position. Standing allows you to make gestures which better help state a point; allowing your enthusiasm to resonate through the phone to the listener.
6) Have prepared questions to ask.
Interviewers expect you to have them. And while a phone interviewer may try to end the conversation and hurry off, graciously state “Before you go, I have an important question or two regarding the position”. Don’t hesitate, start right off with your first question. 5 Never Ask Questions
7) Don’t let the call end without a scheduled interview, if at all possible.
The caller may say ‘I’ll get back to you; we’re just screening now’. When this type of statement is made you can take this opportunity to ask if there is any additional information you can provide at this time.
This is also a good time to ask what you can expect to happen next. For example when you’ll hear back from someone and who that individual will be.
Your Cell Phone
First – hiring pros don’t advocate providing your personal home phone number unless absolutely necessary. Instead you should provide your cell phone number, keep your phone charged, messages answered so your inbox isn’t full when a hiring pro calls to connect regarding an interview. Second – hiring pros admit they generally don’t call people back whose cell phone message box is full.
In short – keep your cell phone charged and available, 24/7, once you begin your job search.
By and large, phone interviews are a strategy hiring pros use to eliminate the unqualified. That said, your voice must project enthusiasm and interest. And must show you are engaged.
TIP: Answers you provide must be concise, descriptive and enthusiastic.