The Phone Interview: A Valuable Screening Tool

CPC Career Help 2

By Lori Jazvac.

Leading up to the traditional interview, behavioural interview, situational interview, and panel interview, there is usually a phone interview. Many candidates forget the importance of this type of interview and consider it “just a brief phone call.” Well, think again.

The phone interview is part of the selection process and represents a critical screening tool before the actual face-to-face interview.

Contrary to what most jobseekers believe, the phone interview is a way for the recruiter to determine if the candidate is indeed a likely fit and warrants an invitation to the actual face-to-face meeting. The phone interview allows recruiters to ask some pertinent questions related to the candidate’s experience that may seek to address questionable résumé gaps, verify important dates, credentials, skills, and reveal long term career goals.

Sometimes, phone interviews can be lengthy and may present a lead-in to questions that would be asked in an actual face-to-face interview. The candidate needs to answer in a detailed but concise manner, while illustrating their points with coherent and brief examples.

The hidden meaning behind phone interview conversations

What is interesting to note, that the phone interview will indicate to a recruiter the candidate’s voice, tone, mannerisms, and ways of communicating and handling situations over the phone. This may signal the way a candidate will present in the actual position. A candidate that fails to expand on their points or make arrangements to follow up can indicate some red flags such as a possible lack of enthusiasm and poor interpersonal skills. How the candidate gauges silences in the conversation and responds to questions will undoubtedly speak volumes about their personality, attitude, communication skills, and work style.

Jobseekers, it is your job to pay attention to your nonverbal communication as well as verbal communication. If you do not smile or sit up straight, this will be conveyed through your responses and demeanour. Remember that the phone interview is your opportunity to make a favourable first impression before the actual in-person meeting and establish an initial rapport with the interviewer or prospective employer. Treat the phone interview as a serious and progressive step in the job search.

Some quick tips on managing a successful phone interview:

  • Create a checklist. Review the job posting and write down how your qualifications align with the job criteria. Have your résumé ready for reference and note some credible achievements with examples beforehand.
  • Research the company and position thoroughly.
  • Prepare some possible interview questions and responses. Respond clearly and directly.
  • Use a landline rather than a cell phone for better reception.
  • Turn off call waiting and avoid any distractions.
  • Pay attention to your own body language it informs the tone you present over the phone.
  • Have questions ready to ask the interviewer, but do not linger or overload the recruiter with a series of unnecessary questions. Manage your time wisely and be respectful of the interviewer’s time.
  • Be sure to follow up. Show your enthusiasm inquiring about the face-to-face interview.

The bottom line is to understand the company, position, and yourself – your strengths, weaknesses, and unique value proposition. Present your best self over the phone and project a confident, self-assured manner in order to increase your chances of obtaining a face-to-face interview. Remember, a career practitioner from Career Professionals of Canada is happy to provide you with the preparatory tools for career success, but it is up to you to utilize these tools to your best advantage!

Lori A. Jazvac is a Certified Resume Strategist (CRS). She provides resume services through Creative Horizons Communications.

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