By George Bernocco, CPRW
Besides residing in a digital age, the house phone is slowly becoming obsolete. Most resumes nowadays contain one number and it is a cell phone. As most of us know, there are pros and cons to having a mobile device that you carry with you. First and foremost, you can be reached at any time and it is only at your discretion if you choose to answer the phone or not. Employers are also joining in on the digital age, and more often they contact candidates over e-mail. Phone conversations are not obsolete yet, so be prepared for that employer to give you a ring.
After completing an application and after an interview, it is important to be on high alert when it comes to expecting the call. Your phone should already be set up to be as professional as possible:
No “ringback tones”.
Voicemail recording with your full name.
When you do get the call, there are seven things that you should be aware of:
A call to your cell phone from an unknown number can mean numerous things. After you’ve applied to several jobs recently, it is easy to assume that it can be an employer. If you’ve done your company research (or even called the employer before), you may recognize the number immediately. If you try to find the number before they attempt to call you, it will be less stressful on your behalf and also less of a mystery.
Availability to Talk
Recognizing that you may not be able to talk at the time of the call is important. If you are in the middle of a crowded supermarket or entertaining guests at your house, you have a decision to make. Should you try to get some place quieter to talk, or should you let it go to voicemail? Be aware that I have heard stories from jobseekers who attempt to call the employer back after a voice message and have been notified that they are no longer scheduling interviews. Most employers understand and are human, and know that you may not be able to pick up the phone that instant. Just call them back at your earliest convenience.
When you answer the phone and decide you want to conduct the conversation then and there, you should at least grab a writing utensil and paper, or open up a blank document on your computer to take notes. You want to grab what you’ll need for the conversation (resume, cover letter, reference numbers, etc). Usually the employer will ask for what they need and it is ok to let them know that it will take you a moment to pull that information up. It does not look good on your behalf if they hear you constantly fumbling around for information. If you cannot pull up what they require, ask them if you can submit it to them at a later date.
You may get caught off guard by an employer call and suddenly be trapped. You answered the phone without looking at the caller ID assuming it was someone else, or you “unlocked” your phone just as they were calling. It is important to know to keep calm. Depending on why they are calling you, they may ask you if this is a good time to talk. A decision has to be made on your part if it truly is a good time to hold a conversation. If you are out and about, no where nearly quiet to talk, or about to parachute from an airplane, you should let the employer know that you cannot talk this very instant and you would like to reschedule. If you do reschedule a talk, make sure you mark it down and are available. Rescheduling again is not an option.
A phone interview is a time consuming process. Employers can schedule this in advance (usually in place of an in-person interview). However, every once in a while an employer may call and interview you on the spot. This is highly stressful, and can be viewed by the employer as a “stress test” to see how you respond. Usually they may ask you questions such as “why did you apply for our company” or “tell me about yourself”. It’s important to be aware and prepared for questions like this once you apply for the job. Make sure you get the person’s name, title and contact information for a follow up thank you letter or e-mail. Ask them for their information at the beginning and/or end of the interview.
When you get the call and it’s a job offer, you will need to instantly be prepared for dialogue with the employer representative. This includes questions about accepting the position, salary negotiations and a start date. Make sure you are in a place to write this information down so you do not forget.
As the conversation ends, ensure you are grateful for the time that was given on your behalf. Always try to get the person’s name whom you spoke with and have it placed somewhere for you to save for the future, especially if it was a phone interview. If you somehow forgot to say thank you, send an e-mail as soon as you get off the phone ensuring that you appreciated the time they took to speak with you.