You’ve applied for a job and you’re eagerly waiting for the next steps. If your qualifications are in line with the job description and your resume makes the cut, chances are you will get that screening call. But are you prepared to make the most of it?
Here’s how to tackle that first call:
1. Be responsive: Generally, you should receive an email from the recruiter to check your availability before your phone jingles. Clearly state the day and time you will be available and honor your appointment. If you hear back with a request for alternate time slots, share your availability.
If you get a call directly, and if you do pick it up (what?), suggest an alternate time, especially if you are not prepared to take the call. Have your voicemail set up so the recruiter can leave you a message in case you don’t pick up an unknown number. Return the call within the next day.
2. Be prepared: Read the requirements thoroughly and map out your experience with those requirements. Read about the organization, the culture, and the people. Preempt some basic questions. If you receive a call from the HR phone screener, the interview will be generic – expect to discuss culture, work eligibility, your current role, reason for change, salary expectations, flexibility, etc. If the phone screener is from the hiring function, then the interview will include questions from on the job. Be sure to clarify the role of the interviewer in your initial conversation (via email or phone) with the recruiter.
3. Get the basics right: Charge your phone, if you are taking the call on your handheld device, and choose a quite location with no signal issues to take the call. Your interviewer will introduce himself/herself. If you are unfamiliar with the pronunciation or if it is a foreign name, ask him/her to help you address them right. Offer the same for your name if you find the interviewer struggling with yours. You do not want a telephonic conversation with either one of you butchering the other person’s basic identity.
4. Clarify the next steps and follow through: During the call, the recruiter may outline the next steps, or just suggest you look out for a follow-up mail. Make sure you understand the details and are prepared for the next steps. If it means solving a case study or taking some personality tests before coming on-site for the next set of interviews, make sure you follow through and complete those requirements on time. If you have questions about the process, clarify during the call so you are not under-prepared; make sure you have a means of reaching out to the recruiter for any further clarifications. Establish this connection during your call.
5. Be succinct and genuinely interested: While you may be applying for multiple jobs at multiple organizations and receiving multiple calls, remember that the recruiter is also interviewing a lot of people and making many calls. Be clear and to the point in communication, so the recruiter and you are getting exactly what you want. Be honest in your answers and interested in the conversation. If during the course of the discussion you realize that the role is not what you expected it to be (sometime job descriptions change from posting to interview), clarify and politely let the recruiter know – you do not want to waste your time or theirs if you are not interested. At the same time, don’t try too hard to please – this is your first connection, so keep it as formal and cordial as possible.
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