Phone Interview Tips in the Age of Social Distancing

In this age of social distancing, phone interviews are more important than ever. As a job seeker, gone are the days when a great resume would get you through the door and land you a panel interview. Now, you have to make a great impression over the phone and show that you are the perfect fit for the job. For employers, this also means that you can’t gauge the candidate via physical interactions and have to qualify them over the phone.

As a job seeker, how do you increase your chance of getting hired for your dream job? As a hiring manager, how do you ensure that you hire the right candidate? Working with our highly specialized recruiters can help both hiring managers and job seekers get the most out of phone interviews. Here are some additional phone interview tips to set you up for success!

Phone Interview Tips for Jobseekers

COVID-19 has come with its share of economic problems, and now more than ever, having a source of income makes all the difference. After fine-tuning your resume and applying for some really great positions, the call comes through; you’ve landed an interview! Great, right? Only that the interview is via phone…what next?

How do you make sure that you make a memorable impression and accurately paint a picture of your skill set through the phone? Here are five effective tips!

1.   Assume You Are Going for an Actual Interview

Here’s the one thing you should never forget: this is an actual interview! Just because it will be happening over the phone doesn’t mean it is any less important. Do the things you would do for a physical interview, including being ready on time and preparing in advance. The interviewer may not see you, but changing into an official interview outfit will help you feel more confident.

2.   Ensure Everything is Set Up and You Have No Distractions

Make sure that the interview is as smooth as possible by getting everything set up the night before. Check that your phone or internet connection is okay, look for a quiet place with minimal distractions, and if possible, use noise-canceling headphones. This will ensure your focus is 100% there, which the interviewer will notice!

3.   Do Your Research

How well do you know your potential employer? Yes, interviews are meant to help the hiring manager know you better, but it is also a chance for them to test your knowledge of their company. Look up the company’s website and social media accounts so that you have a better understanding of the organization and its values. If you need help with company research or interview preparation, a recruiter could also be a useful resource. 

4.  Keep a “Cheat Sheet”

Take advantage of the phone interview. Unlike in-person interviews, phone interviews give you the opportunity to jot down notes in advance to keep in front of you during the call. This can be a great way to ensure you have answers prepared for those tough questions or don’t leave out any of your best accomplishments! It can also ensure you don’t forget to bring up questions you had during your research. 

5.   Send A “Thank You” Email

After the phone interview is complete, follow it up with a “Thank You” email. It is not only polite but also awards you bonus points!

More tips…

  • Answer all questions formally
  • Have a list of questions to ask the interviewers
  • Avoid dominating the interview, and be very attentive
  • Consider working with a recruiter!

Phone Interview Tips for Interviewers

One-on-one interviews give you the luxury of interacting with the candidate, allowing you to gain more insight into who they are based on the way they handle the questions. Phone interviews? Not so much! Here’s a guide for qualifying interviewees over the phone, including the processes, tips, and questions to ask. If time is of the essence, consider working with one of our highly-skilled recruiters to get market insights, pre-screen candidates, handle paperwork including background and reference checks, and much more.

What questions should you ask?

For phone interviews, roughly 30 minutes is usually enough for you to screen the candidate. This means that you have to weed out any irrelevant questions and focus on those that will help you assess the interviewee. The questions you set should help you:

  • Assess the candidate’s understanding of the job description and requirements
  • Find out more about any career gaps
  • Check if they meet the minimum requirements for the advertised position
  • Find out their salary expectations

Avoid general questions but put focus on those that will help you determine if the candidate is the right fit for the role.

Tips to Make the Interviewing Process Smooth

Phone interviews can be time-consuming, and knowing how to navigate the whole process can help you identify the right candidate in a short time. Here are some basic tips to improve your process.

1. Be Attentive

Speak less and listen more. Assume the role of a passive participant and focus on the way the candidate answers the questions. Are they eloquent? Do they understand the questions asked? Are they avoiding your questions? Be attentive!

2. Allow for Extra Time

Even if you plan for thirty minutes, some phone interviews can go over. If you plan on interviewing multiple candidates, set aside at least 45 minutes for each. If the conversation flows, that’s a good thing and you shouldn’t cut it off early – that can be a sign that you have a great candidate!

3. Take Detailed Notes

As is with one-on-one interviews, make sure you write everything down. It is impossible to qualify an interviewee during the phone call, and you will need to come back to your notes, especially if you are assessing multiple candidates.

If possible, use an applicant tracking system and allow for interviews outside normal working hours so that you don’t lock out candidates that are at work. 

Red Flags to Look Out for During Phone Interviews

  • Their understanding of the job and resume don’t match
  • Their only focus seems to be money
  • They talk too much and evade the asked questions
  • It doesn’t seem like they’re well-prepared

Most importantly, always listen to your gut instincts.

Phone Interviews Don’t Have to be Difficult.

As a job seeker, whether you are looking for creative, administrative, or executive level jobs, you only have to make sure that you give the phone interview your best shot. Leave a lasting impression, and don’t be shy to highlight why you would be the best fit.

For hiring managers, one phone call can be a great starting point to assess a candidate’s abilities as long as you have a smooth and efficient process. Be very attentive and watch out for any red flags.

While it may seem daunting to adapt to this new hiring process, Career Group Companies recruiters are here to help both hiring managers and job seekers along the way. Job seekers, think of us as your long-term career coach — many of our candidates return to their recruiter multiple times! For hiring managers, not only do we advise clients on what type of candidate would fit the role best and how to optimize hiring needs to make the best long-term decision for the company, but we make it possible to outsource many more time-consuming parts of the interview process like job posting, resume screening and even phone interviews!

Use the above tips and Find Work or Find Talent in your area today!

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