When you think about looking for a job, a few key items spring to mind. Usually it’s the resume, cover letter, a LinkedIn profile, and the almighty interview.
One crucial thing is very often left out, and that is the phone call prior to the interview. In recruiter terms, it’s called the “telephone screen”.
What most people don’t realize, is that recruiters have a sole purpose in mind during this interaction: it’s a test they use to shortlist candidates, selecting only a few to meet with face to face. If your phone etiquette leaves a lot to be desired, this could be one tough hurdle for you to jump through.
Here are some tips to help get you past that first important signpost on your way to getting the job of your dreams!
1) Ensure that you’re practiced enough to be able to express your ideas clearly and articulately. Recruiters are calling you to ensure your level of communication is on par with what is required for the particular role you’ve applied for, and that you match certain checkboxes.
Questions asked will be centred around describing what you do in your current role, why you’re looking to leave that job, what sorts of roles you be interested in, the location you’d like to work, and your desired salary.
Be ready for these questions, and be ready for some digging into your past roles too. You’ll need to ensure that you have a solid reason for the periods on your resume in which you were without a job. Saying that you were sitting around watching tv all day, isn’t going to suffice!
2) Make sure that you’re sitting somewhere quiet and private, so that you can concentrate and won’t be distracted by people walking past talking loudly, or by the sound of buses and trains.
There’s nothing worse than having a recruiter ask you a question at the exact moment that you tune out as somebody appears whilst you’re trying to remain inconspicuous as you don’t want them to hear what you’re saying. You end up feeling uncomfortable, don’t hear what was asked of you, and the conversation will go down the route of awkwardness.
Plan ahead, by having a little quiet place handy that you can duck into when that all-important-call comes you way.
3) Speak coherently and slow down just a little bit. I, myself tend to speak quite fast naturally, so when a recruiter calls me, I make a point to ensure no use of slang terms and that I speak professionally and eloquently. Speaking slower helps with that as it gives me a little more time to be precise.
It may seem odd to you, but trust me, it won’t sound strange at all.
4) Be positive. When speaking about why you’re looking to leave your current position, don’t tell the recruiter that you dislike your boss, and that your team mates aren’t good at their jobs and you pick up their slack. No matter how true this may be.
Think of a way to attribute your wanting to leave to yourself. What is it that you want to get out of moving into a new role? Is it more responsibility? Would you like a payrise? Are you after working different hours? Perhaps you’d prefer a role that’s closer to home? Or, do you want to learn a new set of skills?
Recruiters want to hear what you can contribute to your new workplace, and that you are introspective and are able to take responsibility. Blaming others is a sure way to NOT get anymore phone calls.
5) Remember that the recruiter can’t see you. This means no eating or drinking (you may think you are chewing quietly, but it really can be quite loud on the other end).
Be aware that sarcastic remarks and jokes can be misinterpreted over the phone when facial expressions and body language aren’t present to back you up. We’ve all had situations where our personality and characters have been misunderstood over the phone or via text.
Play it safe. Stay on topic and answer questions directly, giving information about you that is relevant and meaningful to making you a standout candidate!
By practicing and following the above points, you will ensure that your communication over the phone is a cut above the rest. Take the phone screen seriously, like it were a mini-interview, but prepare for it like you would for a real interview.
Luckily, it’s easier to pass these without the face to face pressures. Take the time to talk to yourself out aloud in preparation, until the answers roll off your tongue. Don’t forget to take a deep breath when you get that call, and believe that you have what it takes to get the job of your dreams!
Irene Kotov is the founder of Arielle Consulting and is passionate about people, careers and management. Through Resume Writing Services and interview coaching, Irene works with job-seekers to have them create a powerful impression throughout the job search and beyond, focusing on written, verbal and non-verbal communication skills.