TAO Self-help

Title:Phone interview how you blew it before you even said your name

Date:November 2012

Source:Reprinted with permission - HRNASTY.com

The phone interview determines whether or not you are going to move onto the next round, the in-person interview. You may have done your research and have prepared some great answer, but in the same way a lot of candidates lose me in the first 5 seconds of reviewing their resume, a lot of candidates lose me in the first 3 seconds of the phone interview.

I blogged about how to be successful in a phone interview earlier, but I forgot one important piece in that post.

Three things will put me in a foul mood when it comes to recruiting but all are related to number 3 below:

  • Calling a candidate at a pre-arranged time for a phone interview and having to leave a voice mail.
  • 10 minutes later I get a call from the candidate with an apology that they were on another call. FYI, unless mom is in the hospital, I don't care how hot the girl is, how cute the boy is, unacceptable.
  • Hearing the phone pick up and the candidate deliver me a single "yeah".

How you answer the phone sets the tone for the rest of the 30-minute phone call. Your greeting is the first impression and if all I receive is a "yeah" you are literally digging yourself a hole for the rest of the call.

Call me old-fashioned, but when I call for a phone interview at a pre-determined and agreed upon time, I am not looking to hear "yeah" or an "uhh hello" when the phone is picked up.

  • The greeting gives the impression of one or all of the following:
  • The candidate has never heard a phone ring in their life and I picture them looking at so electronic doohickey wondering whether to pick the phone up or not.
  • I am NOT the one they are expecting on the other line.
  • They are expecting the caller to be a telesales person or a bill collector. They were not looking forward to a potential phone interview.

After I hear the initial "uhh yeah", I try to give a hint by saying something to the following in my irresistible, engaging, magnanimous, outgoing and upbeat manner. I am hoping I can generate some excitement so the next 30 minutes won't be so painful:

"My name is HRNasty, I work at Acme Publishing is Suzy Candidate available? We had a phone interview scheduled."

  • Most of the time I hear a repeat of the initial greeting, "uhh yeah".
  • If I am lucky I hear "yes, this is Suzy Candidate."
  • Very rarely do I hear "yes, this is Suzy Candidate, thanks for calling."
  • What would I appreciate hearing? "Yes, this is Suzy Candidate, thanks for calling! I am really excited about this opportunity and have been looking forward to talking to you."

It isn't that I need someone trying to be a 'brown-noser'. This phone greeting represents how you will probably pick up the phone when a customer calls. Behavioral Interviewing is a recruiters methodology and its maxim is "prior behavior is the best indication of future behavior". How you answered the phone is real time, live data.

Yes, yes, yes, This is about the candidate experience, and I want to try and provide a great candidate experience, but I feel like this is a common courtesy 101 hear.

Is "yeah" what you are going to say to our customer when you answer the phone? We fully expect to train someone on how to use our VoIP phones with their flashing lights and 25 buttons. IF we need to train a new hire on the etiquette of how to answer a phone call, then what else do we have to train them on? How to write a business letter? How to write a follow-up thank you email?

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