Monday, January 28, 2013

Ace a Telephone Screening Interview in 7 Easy Steps

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Job postings on major internet job boards tend to generate a large volume of resumes. If your resume stands out well enough to make it through the preliminary sorting you'll receive a phone call.
The purpose of this call is to determine whether you meet the minimum position requirements. The caller is looking for specific job related information and is also making judgments about job related personal characteristics.
  1. Gather your reference materials together and keep them close. These materials include a copy of your resume, a copy of each job posting or ad to which you've applied and your research notes about the company. Since it's a phone call you can easily refer to these things without the caller being aware of what you're doing.
  2. Be prepared to discuss your qualifications. Why you're currently looking for work; what skills you have that meet the position requirements; and whether your pay requirements fall within the hiring range are all areas that will be explored. There may also be questions relating to your job stability or why you changed from job to job.
  3. Control the setting. The call will generally be made during business hours and may take you by surprise. If that happens ask the caller to hold for a moment while you move to a quite location. Or ask if you may call the person 'right back'. It is also acceptable to let the call go to voice mail. (Make sure your outgoing voice mail message is brief and business like.)If at all possible take or make the call in a quiet room, alone. If you're at work or out and about your car is the second best choice. Minimize background noises and distractions. (Whatever you do don't take the call in a public restroom; you don't want flushing noises in the background!)
  4. Write down the caller's name and use it. Use Mr. or Ms. Don't use the caller's fist name unless invited to do so.
  5. Know what the caller's role is within the hiring process. You need to know who you're dealing with. If you can't tell by the caller's title ask if she's "the hiring manager". If she isn't she'll be flattered and if she is...good!Remember: If the caller's role is to screen candidates she can only pass you through or eliminate you from consideration. She can't hire you.
  6. Be articulate. Practice talking about yourself and your accomplishments so you can do so fluidly. Use correct grammar and pronounce words correctly. Avoid slang.
  7. Relate well to the caller. Be confident, relaxed and easy to talk with while remaining business like. Listen well. Smile when you talk. Don't talk too fast. When you want to emphasize a point don't raise your voice. Stand up instead. This will give your voice more energy.
One of two things will happen at the end of a screening interview call. An appointment to interview will be set. Or the caller will thank you for your time and say someone will be in touch. Obviously setting a time for the interview then and there is preferable.
Set the interview appointment and get the details. Make note of the date and time; the name, title and phone number of the person with whom you'll be meeting; the address or location; and if offered, directions to get there. (If directions aren't offered don't ask. Be resourceful and look them up.)
If however, an appointment is not made immediately all is not lost. In some situations the screener will forward her short list to the hiring manager and the appointments will be set from there. If this happens ask how soon you should expect to hear something.
In either case stay pleasant through the end of the call. Thank the caller for her time and consideration. End by stating that you'll look forward to your meeting or to hearing from them.
Shirley Ray has interviewed thousands of job hopefuls during her 17 years as a hiring professional. Starting as a corporate recruiter, then moving into professional recruiting and finally staffing agency ownership she has successfully placed hundreds of deserving candidates with top companies.


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