You wipe the crumbs from your mouth and manage to muster up “yeah, this is she/he”. When you receive the initial call from a company, it can go several ways.
- They are calling to set up a phone screening at a later time. Ideal.
- They are calling to phone screen you at this very moment. Not ideal.
- They are calling to set up an in-person interview with no phone screen. Very ideal.
Number 3 is what you hope for because getting in front of the hiring decision makers is the first goal. However, if you have to do a phone screen *ugh*, here are a few tips to survive them.
- Find a clear and quiet space. Go into another room, go outside, go sit in your car, wherever you can hear and be heard.
- Stand up if you can. You project and articulate better standing up.
- Take your time answering questions. There are no prizes for the fastest phone interview.
- Pay attention to the interviewer. We are a zone out generation. It is hella easy to get distracted during a phone interview. Listen carefully to what is being said to you.
- Ask at least 2 questions, one of which being “what is the next step in this process?” Now if they tell you the next step, then of course don’t ask again.
Good news is phone interviews are typically used to make sure you’re not a complete moron. By no means am I saying you’re a shoo-in to get an in-person interview, but the odds have definitely shifted in your favor. Most times, phone interviews are smooth sailing but be on the lookout for these tricks:
- Salary expectation questions – Yes, some places will throw this question out early. I’m a big fan of first deflecting. “I would need more info about this role before being able to answer this question.” Next tactic flip it back on them. “How much do you have budgeted for this position?” And lastly, if that does not work, give a range. We’ll chat later in this post about ranges.
- More than one person on the line – It happens. Be cool.
Fast forward a few hours, days, weeks, your phone rings again. It’s the recruiter wanting to set up a face-to-face interview. Score! Typically, the recruiter will either give you a set time or a list of availabilities. When given a choice, I prefer whichever slot is late morning (think: 9:30 – 11 am area). I like this time slot best because folks should be fed and caffeinated by then. My next favorite slot is 1pm because folks have eaten lunch but haven’t hit that afternoon wall.
Don’t put much thought into whether you’re first or last or in between. I’ve never trended the data, but I don’t recall order factoring into my job offers. Your only focus should be on rockin’ this interview and landing the gig. Here’s how.
- Clothing - There are a lot of gigs that do not require business formal. Two of my most recent interviews were at refineries. I would have looked like a whole fool in a suit there. Know your location and dress accordingly. If you do need to dress up, I say avoid black or navy-blue suits. Gives off funeral vibes. Do not be afraid to go outside the box. Not too far but consider bolder colors. My current interview suit is a cool little chambray number. To my fellow masc-presenting lesbians, if you are going to opt for a man’s suit, please make sure it’s properly tailored. You do not want the be looking like any of the 2003 NBA draftees.
- Punctuality – I wish this went without saying but be on time! If you’ve never been to a place before, do a test run before your interview. This helped me on one of my refinery interviews. These places have physical locations, but GPS won’t always get you there. I did a drive-by the day before and I was glad I did.
- Arrival – Don’t be too early! I like to walk into the office about 7-9 minutes before my interview. This is early enough to get through any security and have a couple mins to get into your zone.
- EVERYBODY matters – Be polite to security, the receptionist, the rando in the elevator. Not saying be fake and phony but speak to them and smile. You never know what a tiebreaker could be.
- CHILL – Yes, I know your bills are due. Yes, I know you’ve wanted to work for this company. But like EPMD said you gotz to chill. Believe it or not, companies want to hire you. They want you to be awesome and amazing so they can fill openings. They need you to be dope because there is one employee doing the job of two. Relax.
- Beat the death STAR – Behavioral interviews have become all the rage. Personally, I hate them, and I think they tell you nothing about a person. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Result, Action aka “tell me about a time” questions. Here is how you beat this interview: have 4 good stories. I have a story about a lazy co-worker that wasn’t pulling his weight with a handover. From this one little story, I can answer at least 7 STAR questions. As I was typing this bullet point, I realized I need to do a separate post on beating the death STAR. Stay tuned.
- Get familiar – Caveat: but not too familiar. Use people’s names when answer questions. “Why are you interested in joining MegaSuperCorp?” “Well, Lisa, MegaSuperCorp is blah blah blah yadda yadda”
Don’t overdo it though. Pick your spots to drop names. Only and I mean ONLY use this if you: 1) are 100% certain you are saying the right name and 2) are 100% pronouncing their name correctly.
- Eye contact – Look at everyone, even if they weren’t the person asking the questions. Don’t be weird though.
- All about MEEEE – If I could only give one word of sage wisdom on interviews is “interviews are time spent talking about a subject you are most knowledgeable: you!”. So talk your ish. Toot your horn. This is your show!
I was trying to make this series a two-parter, but I don’t want to rush through this. The job search process is a delicate dance. I want to make sure I give as much info as possible to help ya’ll land gigs and get your ducats up. Stay tuned for Part 3 where we’ll discuss how to handle the job offer.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Shoot me email. Leave a comment. Or get at me on Twitter, @DucatsInARow