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Here are seven helpful tips for acing phone interviews

By Eliassen Group
Sep 8, 2014 2:30:00 PM

With time being the most precious commodity in everyone’s life, hiring managers everywhere, particularly those who employ technology consultants and IT contractors, are relying on the phone interview to initially screen their prospective employees.

The rationale for using this tactic in the IT staff augmentation process is simple: Eliminate the weakest candidates first, before you bring in those for a face-to-face interview who are best positioned to propel the enterprise forward. 

So what does that mean for you, the ICD10 consultant, Agile coach, SAS administrator, and web developer, searching for your next contracting role?

It means that when the call comes from the hiring manager, you have to be prepared to leave a memorable verbal impression, so that you’ll make it to the next stage of the hiring process.

What can you do to position yourself to do well in a phone interview?

For answers, I went to some of Eliassen Group’s most seasoned and tenured account executives and recruiters, and asked them to share some of their best tips for garnering success during this initial interview.

Here’s what they had to say:

Jim Schipelliti, Lead Recruiter –When faced with a phone screen before you have landed an in-person interview, you always want to be prompt with the person who has reached out to you to set up the call. If they have sent you an email and asked you to give them dates and times in which you would be available to speak with them, respond with a sense of urgency. Lock down that day and time. The hiring manager is measuring how earnest you are in pursuit of the opportunity.”

Niles Dion, Web Development Recruiter –As the interview evolves and you are talking to the hiring manager on the phone, you want to make sure you are enthusiastic about what you do. Talk enthusiastically about why you love what it is that you do. Hiring managers want to get a sense that you love your job, and will love working at their company!”

Rich Romano, Senior Account Manager You should always try to share a story or professional anecdote that will be ‘memorable’ for the person on the other end of the phone. You want to mention something that will convince them to meet you for that face-to-face interview, which is when you would go to the next stage of ‘closing the deal’ and actually being offered the job.”

Peggy Murphy, Vice President of Sales – “Be mindful to take the time and truly LISTEN to the questions that are being posed to you by your interviewer. Just because you are on the phone, that doesn’t mean you have to, or should, talk in a non-stop manner. Remember, the interviewer is also testing your listening skills, and how you respond to direction.”

Greg Jones, Senior Account Executive – “Prior to the start of the phone interview, find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted for the duration of the call. Have in front of you a copy of your resume and any notes you may have taken when you were doing your research on that company. Let those notes serve as your guideposts once the interview starts. Refer to them as needed to help make your points to the interviewer with clarity. Just remember, the notes I’m referring to should be onpaper. One of the biggest mistakes you could make during a phone interview is to be clicking on a keyboard as you look something up and have your interviewer hear that on the other end of the phone.”

Adam Stillman, Senior Recruiter, Team Lead – “At the conclusion of the interview you want to try and get a firm commitment from the person who called you regarding what the next step is in the hiring  process. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. But try to get some sense of where you now are in the process. Are you going to be invited in for a face-to-face interview? What is the timeline for scheduling in-person interviews? While the interviewer, generally, will be reluctant to offer that information, there is nothing that prohibits you from asking those questions.”

Eric Lagerquist, Technical Recruiter, Team Lead, eData Management Firm – “There is no excuse for not knowing who it is that is going to be calling you. Make sure in the days leading up to the phone screen that you have done some research on your interviewer. Check them out on LinkedIn so you have some familiarity about what it is they do. Even run a ‘Google’ check on their name. See what intelligence you come up with that can be used to your advantage.”

Phone interviews are tough. You have no idea what the person is doing on the other end of the phone as they are talking to you and evaluating your fitness for the job.

But with a little preparation you can pass and move on to the face-to-face interview and close the deal!

What are your tips for succeeding in phone interviews?

Eliassen Group

Written by Eliassen Group LinkedIn

Eliassen Group is an award-winning consulting and talent solutions firm with specialties in IT staffing, Agile consulting, creative services, managed services, and life sciences.

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