Ask-A-Recruiter: Ignore Phone Interview Skills At Your Peril

Contributed by Caroline Ceniza-Levine of SixFigureStart

When recruiters want to speak via phone, does this mean they are not really interested?

Phone interviews are not a sign of lack of interest. In fact, they are a key part of the job search process, and ignoring the importance of phone skills is a common job search mistake. As a recruiter, most of my general interviews are via phone. Some recruiters use a phone screen for every search and reserve live meetings for finalists only. Furthermore, a lot of recruiting process work is via telephone: either you or your potential employer is leaving a message to schedule an interview or to check status. Although the term “telephone tag” recalls a childhood game, do not take phone interactions lightly.

Here are some telephone tips:

Have a professional message on your voicemail. This is especially true for millenials who might still have college fraternizing on the brain. Loud music, slang, and funny voices do not make a good first impression.

Leave professional messages on employers’ voicemails. Make it short but complete. Leave your full name. Leave your phone number. Reference why you are calling, especially if you are returning their call. Don’t make a potential employer have to remember who you are, think why you are calling or track down your number.

Don’t forget cell phones. If you put your cell phone number on your resume, you need a professional cell phone message. Don’t answer your cell phone if you can’t answer in a professional way. Just let it ring to voicemail, and call right back when you have your schedule book, pen and paper at the ready.

Return calls promptly. Don’t make a potential employer call more than once to schedule an interview. Some recruiters will call more than once, but some won’t. In addition, jobs fill up quickly in a tight labor market like this one. If another candidate schedules an earlier interview and nails it, you have a smaller chance or none at all.

Help your housemates help you. Tell them about your job search, and let them know if you are expecting calls. Keep a pen and paper handy by the phone for messages. Keep children or younger siblings from answering the phone, if they can’t take proper messages.

Phone interviews are different from live ones. You lose up to 80% of expressiveness without the physical, non-verbal cues so you have to ramp up the energy level to get your enthusiasm across via phone. Stand up to keep your energy high. Dress up for the interview to remind yourself to stay professional. Have water, resume, paper and pen readily available so the interviewer doesn’t hear the clinking of glasses or you rummaging for your stuff.

Master phone etiquette with personalized, 1:1 coaching from SixFigureStart. Contact Caroline Ceniza-Levine at 212-501-2234 or for a complimentary coaching consultation.

0 Response

  1. This is great advice that I can definitely back up. Even companies use phone interviews as a way to screen potential candidates. An example would be when I was on a temporary assignment in a law firm and a permanent opportunity called my cell phone during work. When I was hired I noticed that when they were searching for another candidate someone mentioned that their phone presence was poor. I asked if that had been used on me as well and they said yes. I always answer the phone professionally because like the lotto, “You never know”.