Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Phone Interview Tips

Phone interview etiquette can propel you to the next step in the hiring process

Phone interviews are terrifying to some job seekers and absolutely painless to others. Regardless of your feelings about phone interviews, you can develop techniques and skills that will maximize your phone interview’s impact on the hiring staff. Here are some phone interviewing tips to get you going:

It’s important to prepare for a successful phone contact even as you are applying for positions. I recommend that the last paragraph of every  application letter include contact information in the event the recruiter needs to contact you with questions or offer an interview. When providing this information, it’s important to list the number(s) at which you can be reached, indicating whether or not it is acceptable to be contacted at your current position. Also include your email address if you check it often. Even if your letter is on a letterhead that includes  contact information, it never hurts to repeat the information in the last paragraph.

In certain circumstances it may be important to give additional contact information. For example, a college student going on spring break  during the contact interval after submitting a letter and resume might choose to include a sentence such as "From March 17 to March 29, I will be out of the state/out of the country on spring break. During that time I can be reached at this number / I will be unreachable / I will be unreachable by phone but plan to check my email daily." An applicant who cannot be contacted during work hours might include information such as "Although I prefer to receive messages at my home number, I check messages frequently throughout the day and can usually return  calls during breaks." Finally, if you will soon be moving, include “until” dates with your phone, email and mailing information.

Next, think about your answering machine message. A trend observed by many recruiters is voicemails / answering machines that treat incoming callers to a snippet of music from the resident’s favorite band of the moment. When I was a 20-something myself, I felt that my three-minute Depeche Mode greeting was an expression of my individuality and coolness; as a recruiter, I am mildly annoyed if the concert  goes on too long before I can leave a message. It’s important to decide what’s right for you while at the same time creating a professional impression. 

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