Telephone Interviews – Recruitment by Charles Darwin

Contract & freelance recruitment is recruitment at its most Darwinian.  A discrete set of skills is needed for a set amount of time to achieve a certain business objective.  It follows that the recruitment process should mirror these objectives; succinct, binary, and skills focussed.  More Screwfix Direct than; you don’t necessarily need to establish a deep connection; but you do need to get the job done.

Because of this the telephone interview is being used more often than not.  And not just as a sifting exercise; it’s being increasingly used as a point of decision for who gets the gig.

Telephone interviews for a contract role are used to achieve a few discrete objectives and answer some burning questions:

  • Does the candidate have reasonable verbal communication skills?
  • Are the assumptions I’ve made with regard to pay rate, length of contract, distance of commute and other housekeeping factors correct?
  • Can they evidence – using examples where appropriate – the skills that have outlined on their CV?
  • Do they have the required level of commitment for the role?  i.e. are they a motivated job hunter and if I ask them to be there on Monday will they be?

So how do you prepare for such an ordeal?  Here some simple steps to take:

 1 – Sing off the same hymn sheet

The recruiter or client will want to go through work history; make sure you have the same copy of your CV that they do.  Get familiar with the STAR based competency examples on it that evidence your skills.  Be fluent in talking through these.

2 – Close the door, turn off Jeremy Kyle, and dress for success

You need to approach the telephone interview with the same degree of professionalism and care as you do a face-to-face interview.  Close the door, turn off the telly, throw out the dog and at least pause Call of Duty (my favourite is still COD3).  If you can use a land line to avoid any hilarious “It’s me is that you?” verbal slapstick moments and dress for the occasion.  If you’re slouched on the LA-Z-BOY or a Deckchair in your dressing gown then you won’t sound so professional; take it from one who knows.

3 – It’s an open book test

In terms of getting prepared and knowing the answers, telephone interviews are a gift so don’t waste the opportunity to do your research and have your notes in front of you.  As before this includes being familiar with your CV and achievements and being able to articulate them in a compelling way.  Don’t drown in paper though; you’ll get distracted.  Instead, write out a crib sheet beforehand that has all the relevant information set out in a useable fashion.

4 – Two ears, One mouth

Without non-verbal cues it’s easier to misinterpret or misunderstand a question so make sure you listen closely to understand exactly what the interviewer wants from you.  If in doubt check your understanding before you have a fork handles/four candles moment.

5 – Silence is golden

A telephone interview is not a natural social interaction; it’s a fact find during which certain information needs to be elicited to evidence certain assumptions.  As such, questions will be posed, answers will be ruminated over, given and written about.  This means that there will be gaps in the conversation.  Don’t worry about that and don’t try and fill every second of space with talking; they’ll let you know what they want next.  Also; if you need some thinking time then say so or just give yourself some room by saying “That’s a good question….”

6 – Smile before you dial….

…but seriously…what I mean is that you should sound engaged, enthused and “present”.  Don’t go overboard on this; you’ll sound like you’re selling a subscription to something; but do sound like you at least care about the outcome of the telephone interview.

7 – Ask for the business

At the end of the telephone interview, make it clear you want the role and ask what the next steps are.  Ask the interviewer if there’s anything else they need to know to assess your suitability for the role. 

Telephone interviews are tough, impersonal and sometimes downright odd.  We’ve got your back though.

For an awesome recruitment experience call Auxato.

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