Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Job Interview by Phone? What NOT to Say

I usually write about freelancing issues. But, I've been getting a lot of queries lately that revolve around FT employment. So, all of this week's posts will be dedicated to those who are seeking full-time jobs. Have a question, send it in. Today's topic, handling the dreaded phone interview.

Y. Black, Publisher

Job Interview by Phone? What NOT to Say

Finally, a recruiter responded to your resume. It's been on Monster and CareerBuilder forever, and you've responded to hundreds of ads.

Following are three rules to follow when you've got a recruiter on the phone. Your phone etiquette will not only kill your chances for the job at hand, but all other positions a recruiter may be seeking talent for -- now and in the future.

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1. Answering the Phone: When you're job hunting, it's extremely important at all times to answer your phone professionally. And, more importantly, have those who may be answering your phone follow this rule as well.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard obscene music, obscene messages and been subjagated to dealing with a rude person who answers the phone.

If you have 50 cent or Guns 'n Roses on your voice message, you might want to change it to Bach - at least until you secure a position.

If you're mad at your boyfriend/girlfriend, don't chance them answering your phone with a "What? Who is this?" Answer it yourself.

Kids answer your phone? Make sure they know proper phone etiquette and are old enough to take a succinct message.

Even if a recruiter manages to get past a child or an angry boyfriend/girlfriend, they are unlikely to pass your resume along to their client. Why? Because they think, if this happened to us, then it might happen when the client calls as well. And, as candidates are a direct reflection on the recruiter and his/her agency, there are very few second chances.

So, ensure your phone etiquette -- and those who may answer your phone -- is on at all times while you are job hunting.

2. Lazy: Even though it's a phone interview, many recruiters are skilled at picking up laziness. I don't care if you're sleepy, if you're tired or if you've had the most exhausting day -- put some pep in your voice.

NOTE: Many recruiters will wonder how serious you are about job hunting if they call at 11am and you're still sleeping (or sound sleepy).

Remember, recruiters talk with 20, 30, 50 people a day. There's no bigger turnoff than someone who sounds lazy. What does lazy sound like? Whiny (well, it's kinda far, and I was hoping for . . .); hemming, hawing and guffawing; and all around disinterest.

How to put some pep in your voice? Ask questions, repeat what the recruiter said about the position to make sure you understand, ask if you can come in to see them (most don't want this until they determine you are a good fit, but at least it shows you're interested), etc.

3. Regarding Salary: Don't inquire immediately about this. If the interview goes on for a while and it's a temp assignment, then feel free to ask for a ballpark figure if it wasn't listed in the job ad, or you forgot which job it was.

But, if it's a full-time position, I'd advise against inquiring during a phone interview - unless the recruiter brings it up first.

Why is it okay to bring salary up for a temp assignment and not for a full-time assignment?

Because recruiters understand that temp assignments are often determined by rate -- especially if it's a short-term assignment. But, if it's a full-time job, many recruiters like to think that you're making a career move. Hence, they like to feel that you're more concerned about things like career advancement and learning possibilities than salary.

Although recruiters intrinsically understand that money is a huge motivator, they're trying to select the candidate who is interested in long-term career advancement, not money.

The Importance of a Recruiter

Recruiters deal with many employers -- sometimes hundreds. Even though they might not call with the perfect opportunity today, you never know when that opportunity can come along.

So, when you deal with a recruiter, think of it as not someone who can give you a job today, but someone who can give you "THE job of a lifetime."
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