Friday, January 4, 2013

How To Clear 4 Phone Interview Hurdles

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As the popular movie line goes "you had me at hello'. Sometimes first impressions says it all. Sometimes you can wow the company during your first hello and then there are other times you can blow it. Examples of some blunders are the first date that lasts only 30 minutes, the sports team tryout that lasts only 15 minutes and the scheduled 45 minute phone interview that lasts for only 10 minutes. It should be clear that these are not good signs that the results will be positive for you. Clearly I understand there will always be exceptions to the rule.

Like the other examples above you can control the phone interview so that you achieve positive results. Its clear many companies have reduced their recruiting budgets and operate with limited resources. In the past jobs were posted and qualified candidates would be called in for face to face interviews. Keep in mind that most local companies will receive hundreds of resumes for each position posted. For regional and national companies this number could approach a thousand resumes per job posting. These companies will not commit HR time solely to screening and interviewing hundreds of candidates. Those days are gone and the current candidate selection approach is to have your initial interview via telephone to eliminate unqualified candidates.

Phone interviews are designed for only one purpose and that is to prequalify you for the position while reducing the candidate pool. This prequalification is needed because it allows the company to save time and money during the selection process. Good news for the selected candidate is that you will get a chance to interview for the job. This is a great opportunity for you to present your qualifications and experiences for the position. Your preparation for a phone interview should be viewed with just as much importance as your preparation for a face to face interview.

Today's Job Candidate must view the phone interview differently than the face to face interview. Keep in mind that you must make it past this interview or there will be no face to face interview. The four hurdles you must clear:

1. Preparation. You must prepare for the job by researching the company. This should include knowing what products and services the company offers plus know their competitors. Take time to review the company's mission and vision statement. Do your homework and make sure you are qualified for the job by matching your resume to the job description. If you do this you have cleared the first hurdle.

2. Phone Presence. Let's face it; this is a tough one. You can have the best qualifications and may be ideal for the job; if you can't present well over the phone you will not clear hurdle number 2. Can you clearly present your qualifications during the phone interview? A proven way to assure that you are answering questions correctly and not rambling is to use the STAR technique when answering questions. [S] Situation [T] Task [A] Action [R] Results. Some HR Professionals will listen for STAR responses to determine if you are communicating clearly. Standing during your phone interview will help reduce anxiety as well as allow your voice to project more confidently. If you do this you have cleared the second hurdle.

3. Index Cards. Having index cards handy will allow you to have notes to refer to during your interview. If there are key points you want to capture about the company or position, you will want to make sure you include on the index cards. Every interview will end with a "do you have any questions for me"? You are guaranteed not to forget because you have your questions already prepared and in front of you. If you do this you have cleared the third hurdle.

4. Close. Yes you must close during your phone interview. You have to show that you are excited to be considered for this job and you want to be a part of their team. "Jane Smith, thank you for allowing me to present my qualifications to you this morning. I know my years of experience and professional accomplishments will be a tremendous asset to your organization. I am excited for the next step. Do I have your support to advance me to the next stage of the interview process"? Bottom line; companies want to know that you are enthused and want to be a part of their team. If you do this you have cleared the final hurdle and crossed the Phone Interview finish line.
Utilizing proven interview techniques can be the differentiator when competing in today's tough job market.

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