Telephone screening interviews: Making a good impression.
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A telephone screening interview is an interview that is not conducted in person as the traditional interview is. Instead the interviewer has arranged a telephone call to start the interview process and discuss your interest in the position you applied for.
A telephone screening interview is more difficult than the traditional interview in a sense that you typically do not see the interviewer nor the interviewer sees you so you can not rely or use other non verbal clues and techniques to build the rapport with the interviewer. Therefore it is very important to be clear about what you say and to really bring forward any qualifications or characteristics that you may have and that may give you an edge when speaking to an interviewer.
A Telephone Screening Interview: Preparation.
If you have a chance to prepare for the interview make sure you do a through background search and fact finding on the company and the interviewer. Write down the plenty of notes as well as potential answers to questions you think may be asked during the course of the interview. While you cannot prepare or anticipate every question that may be asked during the interview in general there are some questions that are more likely to come out than others (such as your past experience, reason you had applied for the position, etc.).
When taking notes and doing research remember that you may need to skim through your notes very quickly so make use of a highlighter and try to structure your notes in a point form rather than long essay style notes that may be hard to quickly skim through.
Make sure you have some scrap paper and pen or pencil to write any notes or observations you notice while being interviewed.
A Telephone Screening Interview: Process.
If you were asked to call the interviewer at predetermined time always call on time. Do not call to early or be late. The interviewer may be doing other interviews or may be busy with other tasks. Not being able to follow the scheduled appointment times is a bad handicap that may cost you the position you are applying for.
Select quiet area and make sure you minimize disturbances during the interview process. A TV, radio or other background noise may be distracting to you or to an interviewer and may be having a negative effect on the overall impression and rapport you aim to create with the interviewer.
After you called and before the interview has started ask the interviewer where you should call in case you get disconnected. Do not take for granted that an interviewer may be at their office. One of reasons why an interviewer has chosen a telephone interview rather than in person interview may be that he or she is away from her or his usual place of business or an interviewer may be working from the different office altogether to where the main company office is. Also make sure an interviewer has a way of getting back to you in case you get disconnected and cannot reach him or her.
Be positive about the interview. Show the confidence in yourself be open. It is not what you say it but in more cases how you say it that may be playing a crucial role for an interviewer when he or she is making a final decision regarding the applicant they will hire or call in for a in person follow up interview.
If you are asked a negative or handicap question that you know may be of an obstacle in you getting a job answer honestly but make sure you follow up with the brief explanation how you overcame or are planning to overcome such obstacle.
Be to the point. Do not answer your questions with YES or NO but do not tangle yourself in long stories. Remember than an interviewer has a limited time scheduled for the phone call and if you talk and talk without really saying much you may alienate the interviewer since he or she will find themselves pressed for time or may drift away without really hearing what you are saying.
Speak but also listen. Answer questions asked but also ask questions. If something is not clear ask the interviewer to repeat or rephrase the question. Listen to any comments made by an interviewer and try to engage the interviewer to talk as much as they can. A conversation is a two way exchange of information and if it is you doing the majority of talking you may miss on feedback and information the other person has to offer.
Telephone Interview: Conclusion.
A telephone interview is typically a pre-screening interview precluding to an in person interview. If you ace the telephone pre-screening interview you are a big step ahead when you are called for an in person interview. You can learn a lot about the position, the interviewer and the process by listening and making sure that a telephone interview process transition smoothly. While an interviewer has much more control over an interview process you still have lots of opportunity to direct and structure the interview process to use it to your advantage if you know on which clues to listen and how to respond and structure the information you are giving to an interviewer over the phone.
When an interview is done make sure you thank an interviewer for the time they spent with you and ask them what would be the next step in the interview process. Ask them if it is OK for you to follow up with them at later time to see what the status of your application is. Most likely response you will get is that they will follow up with you if you are short listed for the position but you never know. Some interviewers intentionally wait for the shortlisted candidates to call the interviewer instead of other way around. This way it shows that the candidate is really interested in the position they are applying for and therefore he or she should be given a second chance and called for an in-person follow up interview. You never know until you ask and if you do not ask you will never know.