You know the numbers: Thousands of people are looking for jobs in Toronto.
You know your stats: Educated, good work-experience, some interesting accomplishments.
You know the reality: There are likely hundreds of equally qualified candidates out there competing for the same position.
Great. You pride yourself on having manageable expectations and a firm grasp on the ebbs and flows of the employment market. While I applaud you for your awareness, what really matters are the methods and techniques employers use to dwindle down the thousands, to hundreds, to lunches, and ultimately, to you.
Some firms may opt to administer preliminary over-the-phone interviews as an extra step in the screening process. Think of this as an effective way to “thin out the herd.” Don’t take the word “preliminary” to connote “beginner” or “easy.” One would be wise to take a phone interview just as seriously as a face-to-face encounter.
In many ways the two interviews styles are very similar. However, there are unique advantages and disadvantages to the phone interview that you should carefully mull over before picking up the phone.
1) They can’t see you: Non-verbal communication and body language is a huge part of a successful interviewing. The benefit of visual anonymity takes away some of the stress related to the performance aspect of job searching. Instead of thinking about what you’re wearing, how you look, whether your are fidgeting your fingers, or are making enough eye contact; you can focus your efforts solely on the conversation.
2) Comfort: Commuting in and around Toronto can be a daunting task all on its own. Coupling that with a strict deadline, stuffy subways, and a suit would leave even the most levelheaded candidate feeling a bit frayed. As the interviewee, you have much more control over the time, place and setting of the call, allowing you the luxury of personal comfort and ease.
3) Having Notes: In a face-to-face interview, it is a well-established practice that the candidate comes in with his or her hands free of papers, folders, or pens. For many, holding something (read: stress ball, pencil, a lock of hair, lucky rabbit’s foot) tends to calm one’s nerves and settle one’s speaking voice. You can get away with such coping techniques over the phone. Moreover, you can choose to have all of your preparatory notes and research, as well as your resume, fanned out in front of you if this makes you feel more confident.
4) Taking Notes: Interviews, like heights, may leave one feeling a little faint of heart, dizzy and left with only a fuzzy recollection of what happened. Hiding behind speakerphone will allow you to take brief notes throughout the conversation. This will ensure you’ve covered all the information you wished to discuss, and provides fodder for follow-up questions. After the interview, you use these notes to write a personalized thank you email to the interviewer. (Thank you’s never go out of style).
1) Anonymity: It is much more difficult to make a personal and memorable connection with another person over the phone. As a phone-interviewee, the onus is on you to make a lasting impression.
2) You can’t see them: Non-verbal communication and body language is a huge part of a successful interviewing – for both parties involved. In an in-firm situation, you would be able to assess the interviewer’s level of interest in regards to particular responses or topics of discussion. Over the phone, you must be particularly diligent not be a total bore. Keep a clock nearby to ensure you are not speaking for more than a couple minutes at a time, without asking a follow-up question.
3) Often Shorter in Duration: Take into consideration the fact that a company or firm may choose to conduct phone interviews because they are more cost and time effective. As logic demands, you can expect phone interviews to be shorter, more formal, and more mechanical. In preparation, be sure to have narrowed down your most important talking points into short and succinct sound bites.