The warm twitter and email response to last week’s post on phone interview etiquette inspired me to bring you a part two on the same topic.
I asked Ann Bohl Deacon, owner of Deacon Recruiting and a leader in employment placement to weigh in on her professional telephone interview tips. Ann and her team of experts have coached countless professionals through interview etiquette including the phone interview process. I’m sharing our Q & A and Ann’s tips below.
1. Diane: What should never be discussed on an initial phone interview?
Ann: Initial phone screens are just that – a screening tool. This is the time for the recruiter to obtain basic information in an effort to determine whether or not this person is qualified for a face to face meeting. Initial screens are usually aimed at clarifying work history (basic roles in each position, reasons for leaving, and salary earned, to name a few) and a basic skill set for the position. In my opinion, interviewees should avoid discussing any matters that project an assumption of being hired. For example, this is not the time to discuss topics such as desired salary or benefits, upcoming travel plans or other personal matters that could potentially impact employment, or promotion opportunities. Interviewees are better advised to be prepared with resume in hand, answer questions directly, honestly and succinctly, and to follow up with a couple of questions regarding the next steps of the process and/or the nature of the role in the event it’s unclear.
2. Diane: What is the most important thing and interviewee can do to make a favorable impression during a phone interview?
Ann: First and foremost, I would suggest prepare, prepare and prepare some more! Interviewees should review the company’s website and the specific job description well before the interview, jotting down questions they may have about either. Approximately 15 minutes before the interview, interviewees should gather the resume (preferably the same one that was sent to the recruiter so that you are both looking at the same document), and a pen and pad for note taking. If the interviewee has been asked to call the recruiter they should make certain they call them at the exact time agreed upon. Doing otherwise is as unprofessional as showing up late to the face to face meeting! Conversely, if the recruiter will be calling the candidate, the candidate should ensure they are in a quiet place where they will not be interrupted. In addition, they should ensure a strong charge if using a cell phone or, better yet, use a land line to avoid any issues that often arise with a cell phone, i.e. dropped calls, poor reception.
The interviewee should be keenly aware of their tone of voice and inflection, making every effort to project a positive, cheerful attitude. Oddly enough, this is usually helped by dressing the part! Even though the interviewee can’t be seen by the recruiter, always dress for the interview to get in the mindset of being interviewed. Rolling out of bed 5 minutes prior to the interview will make a negative impression, guaranteed!
Thank you, Ann, for your professional expertise!
Ann Bohl Deacon is the Founder and CEO of Deacon Recruiting / Deacon Professional Services. Deacon Recruiting was recently recognized as the number one search firm by the San Antonio Business Journal. Visit Ann’s career tips page for more pointers on the interview process.