If I see one more article called “Acing the Phone Interview” I’m going to scream. These are my Top 5 Pet Peeves.
Think of trying to get a job like you would blind dating. If you don’t make a good impression on the first phone call, you won’t get to the first date. Don’t make mistakes of turning off a potential employer at the start, because it can easily be done. If the call ends in, “actually the hiring manager’s calendar is really full at the moment now that I look, we’ll call you if any availability shows up,” then you’ve already blown it. Attempt damage control (will visit that topic another time) and keep your dignity. There are other fish (*ahem) jobs in the waters.
I wish I didn’t have to say these things, and wish we were all perfectly courteous all the time, but we’re human, and in my geographic case, we’re New Yorkers, and we’ve got attitude. Just be sure to curb it until your first year or so or until you have the big office in the corner. Then you can bite off whoever’s head you’d like and take the years of frustration from holding back out on your inferiors. Ignore my advice, and you may never make it to the cubicle!
1. Mind your ringback tone and voicemail. If I hear cursing in the song on your ringtone, or on your answering machine, you’re not getting an interview.
I’ll never forget when I called to schedule a director interview on speakerphone in front of the executive director they would have reported to, and their ringtone was Kanye West’s “Heartless.” Needless to say the ED decided he didn’t need a Director who was hurting so badly over a breakup that they’d be that unprofessional. They disqualified themselves without ever knowing it – we didn’t leave a message.
2. Always answer your phone politely! Obviously a call from a company that you applied to will be either an unknown caller or restricted number. It might be a telemarketer, but it also might have been your future boss who disqualified you due to your rude or suspicious tone answering the phone.
I find it entertaining when I hear someone’s tone change from apprehension to excitement when they realize they’re getting called about a position they applied to. Just be cool people, it’d be more impressive.
3. Always feel comfortable to ask questions about a position, but never let salary be question number one. No one likes a gold-digger. Let conversation flow towards benefits & compensation, and hope the scheduler shares it with you. If they don’t go on the interview anyway, interview experience is always great.
4. Learn from your own mistakes. If a call or interview goes poorly or if you are not invited on to the next stage of gaining employment then try to troubleshoot yourself or with a trusted friend. Figure out what to do next time to make a better impression.
5. Remember that you’ve got the lower hand. You want to make a good impression and sway the person calling you to like you. You never know who they are within a company, and whether or not they have influence. The same for those who sit at the front desk when you come in, the first round interview and the HR folk in general. Say or do one inappropriate thing at any time, and you might even find an offer of employment rescinded if you offend anyone.