Three LYJ jobseekers have had phone interviews in the past two weeks so I put together some quick tips. Phone interviews are quite common as step one for a job search process so it’s best to be prepared.
1. Make sure you have somewhere quiet and comfortable to speak, and a strong phone connection.
2. Find out, if possible, exactly who will be on the call. It’s often more than one person.
3. Sometimes people find it helpful to dress up for a phone interview – certainly no pajamas at home!
3. Realize they will probably have 4-5 questions they are going to go through quickly since it’s a screening process. At a minimum, be prepared with: Why are you right for this job? As in, what are your experiences/skills/background that make you a best fit for this position. Why does this make most sense as the next right opportunity for you?
4. You may get a policy/big picture question so be prepared for that. Your thoughts on the state of the marketing industry or food policy, for example, depending on your field. You may also be asked about other key aspects of the job (your philosophy on management if that’s part of the job, fiscal experience, etc.)
5. Print out a copy of your own resume in front of you to refer to. Print out the job description.
6. Expect some kind of curve ball question and roll with it. It could be something very specific to the job that you couldn’t anticipate. For example, I once had a question asking me what I thought about programs for students with disabilities and their specific needs. I never would’ve guessed this question was coming but thankfully I just went with it and came up with a good enough answer.
7. Prepare your question(s) for them. One could be, what are you looking for in the ideal candidate OR what are some of the key challenges/objectives for this position in the first 6 months to a year.
8. Prepare a response, just in case, for a question about something in the job description that is your weak spot. If, for example, one line on the description asks for grant writing experience and you don’t have any, come up with an answer that strongly states why that doesn’t matter because you have excellent writing skills and a great understanding about the grant process, and are confident you can do that piece.
9. Remember there is no body language involved so you have to be extra thoughtful about your voice and tone. If you need a moment to collect your thoughts, let them know so it’s not dead air space. Just simply say, “Great question. Bear with me for one moment while I collect my thoughts.”
10. Follow up with an enthusiastic thank you email reiterating your interest in the position and desire to move forward in the interview process.
The phone interview can be nerve-wracking but the only goal of it is to clearly communicate why you should/must be interviewed in person for this job and that you are truly the best person for them to get to know MORE.
Any other tips or suggestions?