Don't Get Screened Out! How to Ace the Phone Interview.

Recruiting, like many other fields, struggles to keep up with technology. Which is why Generation Z, the ones graduating from college right now are subject to the PHONE INTERVIEW. While they could ace a video interview and master a text inquiry, phone interviews case most to flail.

There’s no template and no spell check. No do-overs. Appearance and body language aren’t factors. For a generation who doesn’t use the phone to talk, the phone interview can be intimidating.

Here are some tips to pass this critical step:

1.) Make sure to ask how long the phone interview will be. Block at least 15 minutes before and 15 – 30 minutes afterward.

2.) Don’t assume the phone interview is with the Recruiter. Usually, it is, but ask if it’s not clear. Check out the LinkedIn profile of your interviewer. Finding something in common is an excellent way to break the ice. Use the information to form meaningful and appropriate questions.

3.) Research the company and prepare questions as if it was an in-person interview.

4.) Use a cell phone voice recorder. Critique yourself. Recruiters are listening for voice inflection, enthusiasm, confidence, clear speech, professionalism amongst many other qualities. Don’t sound flat, bored, hurried or provide evidence of poor verbal communication.

5.) Read the job posting word for word. If any required skills are lacking, think of transferable skills or perhaps how to obtain that knowledge or experience.

6.) Make a note of any relevant talents, experience, class projects, etc. (especially if they are not on your resume) to highlight.

7.) Be prepared to explain: lack of internships, no work experience, a GPA below 3.0, no extracurricular activities, any break in attending school, taking longer than 5 years to get a degree, change of majors, transfer to another college or university, gap year, or any other situation that may be a potential red flag.

8.) Plan to be in a quiet space. If for some reason that isn’t possible, be upfront with the interviewer. The interviewer will understand a siren or horn if the candidate is taking the call from his or her car during a break from work. However, answering while in line at the grocery store or stepping out of a restaurant shows the process is not being taken seriously!

9.) Check the cell service. Use a landline if possible. A poor connection or “bad phone” are not acceptable excuses! Plan and ensure that there will be no interference.

10.) Smile, Stand up or at least sit straight. No, this can’t be seen, but it will be heard!

More often than not, you will be asked basic questions:

• What interests you about this role?

Show that you are specifically interested in that role and company and have the reasons why.

• Why did you choose your major? Minor?

Because my parents told me to is not the correct answer. Show intrinsic motivation.

• How did you hear about this opportunity?

Check where you saw it. This is the opportunity to show you have an organized approach to your job search.

• Give me an overview of your background OR Tell me about yourself.

This is not a 20-minute monologue. Keep it brief, no more than two minutes, and relevant.

• What are your compensation expectations?

Know the market rate for the role. See my article on compensation for more tips.

• When are you available to work?

This is pretty straightforward, but sometimes people don’t know because of a part-time job, or other reasons.

• Do you have any questions?

Always prepare insightful questions.

• Is there anything else you would like to add OR Is there anything else I should know about you?

This is the opportunity to sell! Use it well.

Until recently, the main purpose of a phone was to talk. For many employers needing to screen candidates, that is still the case. Scheduling and conducting in-person interviews takes a lot of time and has a cost.

Coaching can help you ace this first step in the interview process to land the job that starts your career! There is no one-size fits all answer, which is why webinars, books, and generic tips are not effective. Your responses need to showcase your unique talents, skills and experience so employers see your value. 1:1 coaching makes it happen!

Up next: The In-Person Interview.

About the Author

Amy Cooney is a Recruiter, Career Coach, Talent Consultant, and CEO of AC Talent Consulting. With over 10 years of recruiting experience, she knows talent. Because Amy believes in people first, she listens to both clients and candidates to become a trusted partner. As a Career Coach, she helps people of all levels accelerate their careers through the Accelerate You! custom coaching program, resume writing, and group sessions. Amy also provides consulting and training to corporate talent acquisition departments in the areas of recruitment strategy, process improvement and operations, and employer branding. She is available for public speaking, seminars and facilitating career-related events.

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