Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Telephone Interviews

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

It is helpful if recruiters can be sure they’ve called the right number. For privacy and security issues, many people do not list their first names, last names, or telephone numbers on their answering-machine/voicemail greetings. My recommendation is usually to leave one of these identifiers in the message: "You’ve reached Amy, Cathy, and Mark. Please leave a message" or "You’ve reached the Sizemores. Please leave a message" or "You’ve reached 617-973-5235. Please leave a message." Again, each job seeker must determine what is  comfortable. Don’t change your message if you feel uncomfortable about having this information on your outgoing greeting.

If you have roommates, housemates, a spouse, or children it’s important to work out a system of message-taking. Twice this week, I have  called a candidate only to be greeted by a toddler who told me, "Daddy’s in the shower" before she hung up. If you anticipate a "season" of  job searching, it might be a good idea to invest in individual voicemail boxes for each member of your household. You can also instruct them not to answer the phone unless they can carefully write down the entire message and remember to give it to you (this strategy works equally  well for both preschoolers and roommates!).

After you mail your applications and while you are waiting for the phone to ring is a good time to create a mini-job log to have near the phone.  My advice to job-searchers without photographic memory is to make a list of the companies at which they’ve applied and the titles of the positions applied for. Some people even list qualifications requested for each position. (See a Sample Phone Interview Log.) Thus, if you are called by hiring staff, you will have some idea of which job they’re calling about. This week of phone interviewing has really sensitized our staff to this issue. Ideally, the interviewer would like to think his or her company is the only employer to which you’ve applied. But this hope dies quickly when you say something to the effect of "now what job is this again; I’ve applied for so many….?" At best, it makes you look  disorganized and at worst as if you are sending out hundreds of resumes desperately.

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