In today’s smartphone age, everyone is almost always one phone call away. This makes job hunting and hiring easier and much faster compared to the old days when you need to have a landline to be connected.
Majority of today’s first interviews are done via phone, especially among multinationals such as Accenture in the Philippines, Sitel and IBM. These calls could last a good 10 to 15 minutes and will decide if you will receive a face-to-face interview or not.
If you’re a fresh graduate looking for your first job in the Philippines, this is the first thing you need to know: first impressions last. Here are some tips on how to leave a good, lasting impression through the phone.
First of all, create a LinkedIn account.
According to the 2015 Global Recruiting Trends Report, the best sources of finding top talents are the job boards and professional networking websites. The trend is consistent with the increase of LinkedIn members from 100 million to more than 300 million over the last four years.
LinkedIn is one of the best and free ways to build your first professional network. Include the link of your LinkedIn profile in your curriculum vitae (CV) and make sure the information is consistent. Look for friends on LinkedIn and add the people you meet during your internship in your network.
Just like in school, do your homework.
So you’ve seen the job posting. You’re familiar with the company. You have older cousins working there or even a family member. And you think that the job position sounds connected to one of your courses in college somehow. You submit your resume online and wait for the call to happen.
Don’t close that window just yet. Post-college, “do your homework” means researching about the company and the job position. Visit company websites, social media accounts and blogs. Get to know what they do and how they do it.
While waiting for the call, visualize how your talents and current skill set can benefit the company. Job search should be coupled with “job research” and this requires a bit of stalker-like finesse.
Prepare your spiel.
When you’re looking for fresh graduate jobs, remember that you’re selling not just your college degree but also your current, albeit limited, skill set, personality and attitude. Before you even apply, you should know the basics of your CV by heart – the year you graduated, courses you took, competitions you won, and your extra-curricular activities that could help you land that job position. You can’t always have your CV with you when a headhunter calls, so memorize it beforehand.
You can also research on the common phone interview questions headhunters ask, including the earliest start date, expected salary, and preferred work schedule (if necessary). This way, you won’t waste time thinking on your feet while the interviewer is waiting on the other end of the line.
Keep your phone fully charged.
When headhunters call, they often ask if it’s a good time for a quick chat. Otherwise, you can politely ask them to call again after a few minutes or the next day. In your cover letter, you can indicate the best time they can reach you via phone.
Having the line cut due to a dead battery is not a good way to start the entire hiring process. So make sure your phone has adequate battery levels during work hours (9:00 AM to 6:00 PM). If you’re on the go, grab a power bank so you won’t miss out on any calls that can define your future.
Also, avoid taking the phone interview if there are outside noises that can affect the call quality. Transfer to a quiet location so you can hear and speak clearly.
Be clear, concise and consistent.
Having a well-crafted “About Me” spiel will save you from the horrors of giving away too much unnecessary information such as parking woes should you get the job. Remember, in the corporate world, the “About Me” spiel shouldn’t be like the personal description in your IG bio or blog. It should be about what you can offer to help the company grow.
Experienced job seekers are already aware of these pageant-like questions, but if you’re looking for fresh graduate jobs, the questions below are often the hardest to answer. They ultimately decide if you should move on to the next phase of the hiring process.
- Why should we hire you?
- What makes you the best candidate for the job?
- What are your skills that are perfect for the position?
- What can you contribute to this company?
It’s a bit hard to answer these questions if your skill set is not on par with what they’re looking for. Even if you are the best in your class, make sure the job you’re applying for is fitting for your current level (entry-level) and experience.
Think of these interview questions as essay topics and craft one to two sentences to answer each one. Your collective answer should be a summary of your combined strengths such as your education, training, technical and soft skills, key accomplishments and awards, and industry experience, if any. If your previous internship is connected to the job you’re applying for, do highlight your key takeaways from that experience.
Practice your spiel in front of the mirror and time yourself. Make sure your spiel is not too long but not too short either. You can also hit the record button on your phone to see if you are stuttering or rushing through your spiel. Practice as often as possible so you won’t be too nervous when finally asked.
Listen first. Then talk. Finish strong and positive.
Similar to a face-to-face interview, let the interviewer set the stage. Remember to listen first. The interviewer will explain the job position, the expectations and some of the challenges that could be involved. The last bit can also let you in on why the position is currently available so it’s important to take note of the factors that could affect your hiring decision.
When it’s finally your turn, try this tip: smile as you talk. The interviewer will not see it but he or she will hear the difference in your voice. Act as if you’re talking to the headhunter face-to-face. Mind your posture and be as calm as possible so you can speak more clearly.
After the recap and towards the end of your call, finish strong by summarizing your strengths. Communicate your interest in meeting them personally and inquire about the next steps in the hiring process.
The interviewer will give you a timeline of how long they will need to process your application. Take note of this so you can politely follow-up later. Lastly, don’t forget to thank the interviewer for the call and reiterate that you are looking forward to a positive feedback from their team.