Why a Phone Interview?

A phone interview is a great non-commital way for the recruiter to get a bit more information about you and how your skills and qualifications can be utilized in the position the recruiter is looking to fill. Typically, phone interviews last about 30 minutes. Generally, I ask about 4 questions.

Why a Phone Interview?

One of my biggest pet peeves when I conduct the phone interview is the candidate not being prepared for the interview. Remember the name of the person you are supposed to interview with. Write it down!!! Because the interview is over the phone, it’s easy to do this. Prepare for the phone interview like any other interview. Dress for the interview. I’m not suggesting doning a suit and tie, just be comfortable. Have your resume, questions for the interviewer, and your STARs ready.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, keep a file of all the positions you have applied for, the name of the company, and the job descriptions. This will help you get a better idea of what skills to highlight in the phone interview. If the recruiter is looking for a payroll/HR admin who has Peoplesoft and crystal reports experience, you want to highlight your experience with these programs and not other programs like SAP and ADP. Without proper preparation, you could be showcasing the wrong skills and qualifications, thus, disqualifying you for the position.

Generally, I try to focus on three skills that the advertisement listed as requirements of the position. For the HR Admin position the ad might look something like this-

XYZ Corp is now hiring for HR Administrator/Payroll Clerk. Candidate must have 4 years experience with Peoplesoft and Crystal Reporting, Benefits administration, and Employee Relations. PHR certification is preferred but not required. Strong computer and Microsoft Office skills are a must. . .

Now, take three of these skills and highlight your own. Let’s go with Peoplesoft, Benefits, and Employee Relations. All three of these are important skills to have and are specific to a HR Admin. Strong computer skills are nice but someone who is a secretary could have computer skills. You want to set yourself apart from the rest. Use your STARs to highlight these three skills. See my previous post for more information about STARs.

It’s also important during the phone interview to keep distractions to a minimum. Don’t schedule a phone interview while you are babysitting your neices, walking your dogs, or cooking the kids dinner. Don’t laugh. These are some of the excuses I have encountered when interviewing a candidate. Make sure your phone is charged. Conduct your interview in a quiet place free of distractions.

As the interview questions come to the close, don’t forget to ask some questions about the position like, “How many people would I be processing payroll for and weekly or bi-weekly?” “Where is the position located?” “What are you (the interviewer) looking for in someone in the HR Admin/Payroll position?”

Like any good sale make sure to ask for the job. I recommend asking what’s the next step. Often times during the phone interview you will be invited for the face to face interview at the conclusion of the phone interview.

After the interview, I recommend sending a short email or snail mail thank you to the recruiter. Do this within one business day. You want to make sure and keep your interview and your qualifications fresh in the hiring manager’s mind. Don’t phone stalk the recruiter. They will contact you. Please understand that a recruiter will have many other positions they are recruiting for at the same time. A simple email or phone call to follow up a week to two weeks is appropriate. Do not call the recruiter more than twice a week.

I am often blown away by the tone and attitude of candidates who are calling me back to set up an interview. Yes, I called you and left a message but understand I am busy. Just last week I was out of the office for two days at job fairs. When I returned I had over 35 messages. When I called one candidate back, he told me that he thought I had died. (I’m not kidding!!!) I responded with no, I’m still here, but I’d love to set you up for an interview. Most recruiters would not be so forgiving. What impression do you want to leave your hiring manager with???

Next time. . . the art of networking

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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