Tag: first impressions

Phone Interviews: You Called, I Can’t Hear a Thing

Hello, hello, baby. You called, I can’t hear a thing.
I have got no service in the club, you see, see
Wha-Wha-What did you say?
Oh, you’re breaking up on me
Sorry, I cannot hear you, I’m kinda busy.

– Lady Gaga

My first gig in HR was as a recruiter/staffing consultant/placement specialist (or whatever title they wanted us to use at any given day) for a smaller temporary staffing agency. There was no training. I don’t think I even shadowed anyone prior to jumping on the phone and doing my first phone interview. I started out just interviewing candidates to fill data entry or basic reception positions. I’d never done either, so it was really a trial by error situation. But then that was my gig, all day, every day.

In my world, here are the things that have helped me not only become successful when it comes to recruiting, making recommendations to hiring leaders and getting some pretty amazing people started in their career:

  1. KNOW YOUR HIRING MANAGER. Get to know them. If you think you’re going to get the hiring right for someone without having some really in depth conversations, you’re wrong and you’re just causing yourself more work. Even if you’ve hired for the manager one million times before, you still need to check in with them. You need to know what’s working and what’s not working for their team. It’ll help. I swear.
  2. LISTEN. Seems easy, right? But we have the distractions of open offices, emails coming in, to-do lists growing, etc. and that’s fine for you to deal with on your time. Not the candidate’s time.
  3. ENGAGE. That means don’t treat your standard list of questions like a checklist. I’m sure you’ve asked the same questions for the same position for years on end if you have that one role that you’re always recruiting for. I don’t care. That candidate has never interviewed with you, so don’t take it out on them. They’re talking to you with the idea that this could be an amazing opportunity for them. And it’s one for you, too – you could be getting the ball rolling for hiring someone fantastic.
  4. ASK. As much as the questions you’re asking are probably somewhat canned, so are the answers you’re going to get. Nobody’s fault! It’s your job to go past those canned questions with words like “why?”, “tell me more”, and “what did you learn from that?”.
  5. LEARN. You can learn SO much when interviewing someone for any position. It might be something you’ll never even need to think about again, I get that. But in your role as an HR person, that should be far from the truth. I like to make the candidate the expert in whatever work it is they do and I’ve learned so much. And really, the more I learn from a candidate, the more I want them to move on to the next round and the more I’ve increased my knowledge of something else, which is always a good thing.

This stuff is all Interviewing 102. Interviewing 101 should be where you learn all that legal stuff, okay? And we all need constant reminders of both of those when it comes to interviewing. If we don’t have them, we end up doing the same thing over and over and that’s rarely the right thing to do.

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Starting Strong with Phone Interviews for Candidates

Love ’em or hate ’em, whether you’re a hiring for a job or looking for one, you’re bound to run in to a phone interview one of these days. It’s a introductory chat, kind of like those conversations you have at your friends’ barbecue with someone you don’t know – could be awkward and painful or it could be an opportunity to meet your new BFF.

For my talent acquisition/recruiting friends: your post is coming. Sometimes these phone interviews get incredibly routine and I get that. Regardless of how mundane they might feel, you’ve got a big responsibility to get these things right!

For my jobseeker friends: the rest of this is for you. If you want an invitation to meet someone in person, you gotta nail this phone interview.

Things You Should Do (especially if the phone interview is with me):

  • Be ready. When you schedule it, make sure you’re actually available at that time. And please make sure that you’re somewhere with solid phone reception where there aren’t going to be a lot of distractions.
  • Do your research. Refresh your memory on the actual job you applied for and do a little bit of homework about the company. An answer of “not too much” when the recruiter asks you what you know about the company or the job is 9 million percent not cool.
  • Understand your own experience and how it matches the role. Does the position ask for someone with customer service experience and you’ve worked in childcare your whole life? That is some serious customer service experience. Paranoid parents are not exactly peaches and I know this because I am one.
  • Get off your ass. Sit up. Stand up. Walk around. Those theories about walking meetings being more productive apply to phone interviews. You’ll sound better and project yourself clearer.
  • You better ask some questions, man, and you better put some thought into it. You always have questions. Don’t ask about the job description unless you have something very specific you want details on. This is a chance for you to engage the person on the other end of the phone. This is where you get to interview them to make sure they’re the right company for you.

Things You Should Not Do (especially if the phone interview is with me):

  • Don’t act surprised when the phone rings. You should already be prepared for the call and expecting it five minutes before it’s scheduled. You wouldn’t run into an in-person interview at the very last minute (I would hope), so treat this the same way.
  • Don’t act like the phone interview is a formality. In a way, it is. I’ll give you that. But it’s really likely that the person interviewing you has a strong relationship with the hiring manager and isn’t going to risk that by sending through someone that isn’t really engaged during this first talk regardless of how perfect your resume might look. We’re normally hiring for more than just a list of skills on a piece of paper.
  • Don’t oversell yourself. Confidence is rad. It’s encouraged, but you gotta be realistic. By stretching your actual skills in an unrealistic fashion, you’re not only wasting your time and the interviewer’s time, you’re going to fall hard on your face if you get hired and that’s not gonna feel good.
  • Don’t forget your manners. Thanks for the call. I appreciate your time. It was great to talk to you. I hope we can talk again soon. Those things set you apart. They indicate you’re a decent human. We like to hire decent humans.

I love conducting phone interviews. I really love awesome phone interviews. When I wrap up a phone interview I really loved, I immediately hang up the phone and call the hiring manager to let them know THIS IS THE ONE. And I want That One to be you!

Have other tips for phone interviewees? Have a phone interview coming up and want to chat through it? Comment below or shoot me an email! I’d be glad to chat.

Photo Credit: Wesley Quinn