Have you ever conducted a phone interview and got off the phone and said, “Man, I nailed that”, but then, for some reason, you never heard back? Maybe you had the opposite feeling and you got off the phone and said, “Man I blew that, if only I had said this…” Sound familiar? Our team interviews thousands of candidates by phone each year. Listed below are the five most common mistakes candidates make when participating in a phone interview.
1. Learn Before You Earn: It is critically important that you learn everything you can about the person and the company you are interviewing with, as well as the job description for the available position. A senior level executive in the telecommunications industry once told me about an experience he had interviewing for a retail sales position, and he had no prior retail experience. He had researched the background of the vice president of retail sales prior to interviewing with him but was struggling to find common ground, due to his lack of experience in the retail arena. Because of the research he had done, he identified that they both attended the same college. Five minutes into the interview, he planted the seed by using a code word only known to graduates of their fine institution and guess who landed the job?
Interviewing Tip: Before every interview, set a google alert for the company and the name of the person that you are meeting with. Find one thing that you can politely integrate into the conversation, that shows you did your research.
2. Attitude is Everything: You cannot imagine how many people get on the phone and the tone of their voice is dull and boring. Exuding energy on the phone can be challenging but it is very important and can make a huge difference on the interviewers perception of you. Interviewing Tip: Make your voice smile; stand up for the interview as your energy increases 10x when you are standing versus sitting. Also call your own voicemail answer a question about your experience and give the answer on your message and listen to it back. You will be able to tell very quickly how you sound on the phone and what your energy sounds like.
3.It’s all in the details: The worst thing a company can come out of an interview with is the following saying, “I’m not sure, I think they can do the job”? Most people leave the interview also saying, “I think that went well”. The problem is that neither of you know because not enough was gleaned from the interview. Make sure you follow this pattern-‘Question-Behavior-Example’. For example: Question- “Tell me about a time that you were behind on your plan and what you did to overcome this?” Behavior-Ask yourself what behavior are they trying to learn from me? The behavior could be persistence or creativity. Example- Your answer could be, one time I was trying to win Presidents Club for my company and while I wasn’t behind on plan, I set a goal to be 130% for the month to ensure I won my company trip, I worked every weekend in December and the result was, I won my trip! Interviewing Tip: Read the job description fully, pick 3-5 responsibilities and describe detailed examples of demonstrated behaviors through your experience.
4.Do you have any questions: At the end of every interview the person usually asks if the candidate has any questions. The two responses we hear very often are; “No, I think you covered everything” or the candidate provides a list of unending questions. Don’t be fooled by this process as the interviewer is trying to see if you have been listening and if you are prepared. Interviewing Tip: Have a list of 3-5 questions prepared to ask on every interview and vary them based on the position, the culture of the company and what they are looking for in a candidate.
5.Everyone sends the follow up email-DON’T: Be bold, be creative and be courteous. They say 95% of most salespeople do not follow-up properly with their customers and the same could be said about phone interviews. Most people, if they do follow-up, send an email. I would suggest you be more creative and send a hand written thank you card tailored to your conversation that makes you stand out. Interviewing Tip: Before getting off the phone, ask what the process is, timeframes and who else would be involved, to gain agreed upon next steps. Before you do anything else, sit down and write a hand written thank you note with two things fresh in your mind from what you discussed and mail it before the end of the day.
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