How To Land That First “Professional” Job – The Phone Interview

We are now about to participate in a previously scheduled phone interview.

The good news is that each interview we do increases our confidence – for the next.

As such, it is important to get as many of these under our belt as quickly as possible. Doing so serves as a learning experience as well as keeps our momentum and energy up: which prospective employers can actually sense. That is, they can tell if you are in active pursuit of, and are being actively pursued for, a job. You will have increased confidence in your eyes, tone of voice and body language, and you will have the opportunity to comment as such, during the interview. All of which serves you in the process of landing that first professional job!

Final Prep

Prior to the scheduled interview (phone or face-to-face), it is important to spend time in final preparation, to:

  • Go to LinkedIn and view the profile of the interviewer(s). Here we can learn a number of things that may result in increasing our understanding of the company, tuning our questions and/or serve as general topics of conversation. Seek to determine (and take notes on!):
    • How long they’ve worked at the company
    • What their current role is
    • What their prior roles have been at this, or other companies
    • Where they went to school
    • Do they know anyone we know (VERY helpful information to leverage!)
    • Etc.
  • Review the common interview questions and those that you might expect to receive for the specific job, and the “potential” responses. That is, as a reminder, as the interview unfolds we can and should “tune” our responses to their questions, and refine our own questions, based upon what we are hearing.

Phone Interview

The key points here are:

  1. Be ready
    • Be in a spot where you can have an uninterrupted conversation, in confidence, with no background noise.
    • Have your laptop open, ready to reference your notes and questions, and to take additional notes.
  2. Be early
    • If they are calling you, expect their call 5-minutes in advance.
    • If you are calling their direct line, dial their number PRECISELY at the specified time!
    • If you are dialing their admin, dial the number 2-3 minutes in advance of the scheduled interview time, letting them know that you have a phone-call scheduled with this person, which allows the admin time to find and/or connect you with the interviewer.
    • In either of the latter 2 cases when you are calling them, if you reach their voice-mail, leave a message indicating:
      • Your full name
      • The time you called, per the previously scheduled phone interview (so they know you were on time)
      • That you realize they are busy and may just be returning from a meeting
      • That you will call back in just a few moments, offering that the interviewer could also call you, at your number. And, be sure to provide it (twice, so they can write it down).
      • Then, call back in 2 minutes.
  3. Be clear, concise and confident
    • Be sure to speak clearly over the phone. If you are using a headset, ask them if they can hear you ok. If they can’t, let them know that you are going to kill the headset and immediately pickup the hand-piece.
  4. Convey energy and enthusiasm
    • All things being equal (or relatively so) the candidate with the most “fire in their eyes” is the one who will be hired, or at least, taken to the next level of the interview process. Since we are at the phone interview stage, they obviously cannot see any “fire in your eyes.” As such, you must use “tone of voice”, to convey energy and enthusiasm to ensure they understand that “someone is in there.” No flat monotones please. That leads to opportunity lost!
  5. Balance the conversation
    • All interviewers are NOT created equal. Some may be very cordial, others not. Some may ask you if you have any questions, others may fail to do so.
    • It is important, from a “posture” perspective, to make sure you create / engage in conversation. That is, the interviewer may be “firing” questions at you. Don’t feel like you can’t interject your own exploratory questions before, during or after answering the interviewer’s direct question. This could include a question to clarify what s/he is actually asking. Or, it could be a question of interest that you come up with on-the-fly, based on something the interviewer said.
    • And, finally, you want to make sure to pose those questions you came up with in preparing for the phone interview.
    • Bottom-line: Keep it “conversational.”
  6. The wrap-up
    • As the call wraps-up, it is important to:
      • Mention that you appreciate their time for this conversation. And, that you now feel more confident that you can add value to their team based on what you’ve learned (assuming this is truly the case).
      • Ask what they see as next steps.
      • Ask when you should expect to hear back from them.
      • Ask if there is anything else they need from you at this time.
      • Thank them (again) for their time!

In a subsequent post we’ll cover the face-to-face interview and the follow-up (which will apply to both types of interviews).

All the best!

p.s. – If you recall, the inspiration to post on this topic (How to land that first “professional” job) results from my son (Ian) receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Web Design and Interactive Media. The good news is that he has been following the steps outlined and has generated “much interest” from would-be employers and recruiters. This includes having numerous phone and face-to-face interviews with others on his calendar 🙂

It is simply a step-by-step process, that, when followed, creates results! I love this!

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