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Waiting for the call - telephone interview tips

Posted by Pattie Hunt Sinacole  December 20, 2010 01:08 PM

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Q:It has been a long time since I've had to look for a job, so the concept of the phone interview is new to me. If you have a phone interview scheduled and the person doesn't call, should I call them? How long past the scheduled time should I wait before I call?

A: Telephone interviews have certainly grown in terms of popularity as a hiring practice. It is a method of quickly screening candidates without either party having to tangle with the logistics of an in-person interview (e.g., weather, traffic, etc.).

Confirming a telephone interview in advance may eliminate some of the “who calls whom” confusion. If you don’t hear from an interviewer by the pre-agreed upon time, you should call them at a few minutes past the designated time.

Telephone interviews are as important as in-person interviews.

Some telephone interview tips:

1. Confirm the telephone interview in advance. Email works well for confirming a telephone interview. A sample email message:

Hi John, Thanks for inviting me to participate in the telephone interview for the role of Inside Sales Rep. As I recall, you had suggested that I call you at 10am on Tuesday, November 10th. I will plan on calling you at that time on 617-123-4567. In case you need it, the best number for me at that time is 508-123-4567. I look forward to hearing from you at that time.

2. If using a cell or cordless phone, make sure the reception is good. This is probably my biggest pet peeve with telephone interviews. I prefer using a non-cordless landline on my end. However, some candidates use a cell phone almost exclusively. This is fine. But please make sure the reception is good and that the phone has been charged. There is nothing more frustrating than a dropped call, a line that goes dead or a spotty connection.

3. Be prepared for the call. Your total focus should be on that call. You should not schedule a call for when you are food shopping or waiting for your oil change in a noisy auto repair garage.

4. Be as prepared for the call as you would be for an in-person interview. Have your resume with you. Research the company in advance.

5. Follow up after the call. Don’t leave the follow up hanging or else you won’t know expectations on next steps. For example: John, Thank you so much for taking the time today to talk to me about the Inside Sales Rep. role. When should I follow up? Do you prefer that I follow up by email or a phone call?

6. Stick close to email before and after the call. There are so many strong candidates who apply for every job. Email is probably the best vehicle for notifying candidates of next steps (or even a re-scheduled call). If you are not checking email at least every day (if not several times per day), you may be missing important information about the next steps in the process.

7. Send a thank you note/email after the call. It will make you memorable in a good way.

The selection process for a job starts before you walk into the company to interview for a job. Preparation is important. Think about how you can provide examples of how you have shown value in the past. Prepare a list of accomplishments, achievements, etc.

Finally, a company hires people to add value. Be ready to articulate what you can contribute.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Meet the Jobs Docs

Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.

Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.

Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.

Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.

Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.