Phone Interview Etiquette
Time is money. Time spent on one thing directly correlates to the inability to spend time in another area. This is particularly true when it comes to hiring. Any time a position is left unfilled there’s a potential for loss of productivity and earning.
Shaping the Timeline
Whether the job is an existing position or newly created, hiring creates an urgency to find the right person. Depending on the current job environment and the popularity of the job position, many candidates may apply. To save time and effort for both candidates and the hiring staff, most companies create a series of interview steps, each with the goal of determining a candidate’s fit for the position and the organization.
After the resume review, a phone interview is often the first official step in the hiring process. While the phone might seem a more casual encounter, it’s a critical juncture that will determine if a candidate moves to the next stage, an in-person meeting.
Setting the Scene
Phone interviews can be tricky. Most of us aren’t in the habit of cultivating or practicing good phone skills, relying on email, social or text to exchange information. Plus, unless you’re on Skype or some other video-enabled platform, you cannot see the other person’s face. Using the phone means it’s critical to listen for natural pauses in the conversation to avoid interrupting.
Phone Interview Etiquette
- Find a quiet place – phone interviews are stressful enough without coffee shop background noise or other interruptions. Anticipate how background noise could cause confusion and look for ways to minimize it. This not only provides a quieter environment to speak in, it also sets the potential for a calmer mind, free from noisy distractions.
- Avoid oversharing – interviews are for learning about a candidate’s skills, experience and future goals, not for personal stories. This is a time to share skills and for the recruiter to look for connections between the candidate and the position.
- Stay present – avoid the temptation to do other things during the call. Each small noise can be a distraction for the candidate and the interviewer. Additional activity also conveys a lack of engagement.
- Avoid salary talk – a phone interview is an exploratory conversation, not a time to talk salary and benefits. Keep the conversation to job skills, experience and interest in the position and company. The rest can wait.
- Ask questions – don’t skip the opportunity to ask clarifying questions. Curiosity about the position and company conveys interest in the position and a desire to learn more about the company. Preparing a set of questions in advance can help.
- Be on time – nothing sets a negative tone like being late for any interview. Tardiness translates into not being interested in the details and a lack of respect for someone else’s time, not the memory you want to leave when interviewing.
Phone interviews are rarely comfortable so prepare in advance. Call a friend to check the phone reception, secure a quiet place and know what you want to convey to the interviewer. These small steps can make the difference between securing the next round of interviews or not.
This article is brought to you by Staffing Kansas City, a Kansas City employment agency that provides contract-to-hire programs and direct hire placements, in addition to contract employment services.