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June 16, 2010

Treat Phone Interviews Seriously (including IPhone Facetime and Skype Screening)

"John, phone interviews have been kind of a joke," one jobseeker said to me. "I don't think they are a big deal. I just kind of roll with them." For the confident person phone screens can seem easy. But don't be lulled into a comfort zone. I caution jobseekers and clients that phone screens can be very serious, very formal and they are going video. Be ready for anything. If you are not you can quickly be eliminated from consideration. 

Some jobseekers treat phone screens as a necessary nuisance. They do not prepare. They view them as a way to get to the face to face interview. They take the interview anywhere with little to no preparation. They take them on their cell driving, at the mall or wherever. That's fine for some. But phone screens can lull jobseekers into a false sense of security. Look at them as almost mini face-to-face interviews. Prepare fully. With the advent of video phone screens coming on look out (see the IPhone's Facetime lately?). I predict the IPhone Screen next! 

To the jobseeker referenced above I said this: "I agree that the phone screen interview is probably not the time to convince interviewer you are the best and only candidate. In fact, getting that next interview and earning that next interview should be the primary purpose. But you might be missing some key steps."

Suffice it to say people do miss many key points and steps that would make the phone interview and phone screening interview more productive: Key Research, Phone Base Setup with No Distractions, Questions to Ask the Interviewer, A Clear Follow Up Letter Strategy, Selected Behavioral Questions Readied and more. Other issues on phone screens that are coming to light now are Skype Interviews, Video Phone Screening and more. Phone screening now has a video element. Look out. It may not be here now to a great degree. Your industry may be next. One client said to me: "I didn't think they were going to Skype me on the phone screen." They might. Are you ready?

Here are two more comments that I have heard, myths that should be debunked regarding phone screens or telephone interviews:

"A phone screen is for you to convince the interviewer you are the right choice for the job." I like that someone would prepare for a phone screen with this in-depth thought process in mind. But the purpose of the phone screen from the employer point of view is to: A. Decide if you do or don't meet the job requirements and B. Create and keep an interest in you as a candidate. For the jobseeker or candidate a phone screen should be about getting that next meeting or that face-to-face meeting. 

"I don't prepare too much because first interviews or phone screens are just that – screening interviews with human resources." Do not be lulled into a sense of security on phone screens. Imagine this. The phone screener, presumably an HR representative, may hear this from the hiring manager: "Make sure you ask the candidate how they work in small group teams or how they have worked directly with senior management." Be ready for deeper questions and for the phone screen to go further than confirming facts. It may turn behavioral and be a more in-depth interview. It may turn to the unexpected. 

Get the right thought process. Be ready. The phone interview or screening interview should be looked at as a very serious, mini in-person interview. If you fully prepare you have a better chance to be screened in vs. screened out.

 
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