Articles for Professionals

I Once Tanked in a Phone Interview. You Can Avoid It.


Last week we created a CV that gets you the phone call. This week we’ll review how to make the most of the initial phone call.

I once completely shanked a phone interview. True story. I managed to get the call, but instead of declining to talk until I was well away from my boss at the time, I thought I could get away with it. Big mistake. While I managed to avoid the boss I tanked on the call. My head was elsewhere. If an employer calls, take it seriously, and here’s how you do it.

Message bank.

It may seem like an odd place to start but this may be the first opportunity you have to make an impression so here’s a few things to take into account. Avoid themed voicemails. Personally, I hang up on these. They have no place in a professional setting. Another message service that many employers won’t bother with is the ’10 second message converted to text’ (referred to as a ‘deal-breaker’ by one Fitness Director). The best voice-mail message is a basic “Hi, you’ve reached [name]. I’m sorry I can’t take your call. Please leave a message and I will be in touch with you shortly”.

Answering the phone.

A disturbing number of employers I’ve spoken to have experienced a candidate that is hostile and/or aloof on the phone until they realise who is calling – by which time the damage is done. No measure of back-peddling can save you! Even if you’re not applying for jobs, answer unknown numbers politely. If you’re having issues with strange unwanted callers; 1) Let the call go to voice-mail (see above) or 2) Make use of the Do Not Call register. Better to use one of these options than look like a tool.

Smile while you talk.

It absolutely comes through in the call. The easiest way to avoid the monotone is to smile as you talk. It also helps if you’re able to demonstrate some enthusiasm for the potential opportunity throughout the conversation.

Avoid one word answers.

For example, if the employer asks if you have experience as a Personal Trainer, rather than a basic ‘yes’, follow this up with (for example) ‘Yes, I’m currently working with 12 clients a week with XYZ studio. I very much enjoy the work but the opportunity you’ve presented appeals to my interest in [whatever]”. Not only have you demonstrated experience but you’ve tied it in with knowledge of the employers business and why you’ve applied. Boom!

Make sure your answers are matched up with your CV.

Keep in mind that the employer is likely to have your CV sitting in front of them when they call, and they will be wanting to confirm some of the details.

Get yourself free of distraction and noise.

I learned this the hard way. Give yourself the best opportunity to successfully land a face to face interview. If it’s not a good time, arrange for another day/time. In the very least, find yourself a space where you can hear what’s being asked, and are free to speak without distraction.

Have a strong understanding of the nature of the role.

Have you done your background on the role you’re applying for? For example, if applying for Personal Training roles are you aware of whether the role is employed or rental based?

Don’t be too concerned about what’s in it for you (yet).

Sure, you’ve got your standards and, yes, the interview process is definitely a two-way street. But don’t get ahead of yourself! Until you’ve established (by words and actions) your value to the employer, your bargaining power is pretty low. Better to build the employer’s enthusiasm before you make any demands/requests.

Even if you never take a role with a particular business, it’s always better to leave the recruiting manager with a good impression. Be ‘the one that got away’. It leaves the door open for future opportunities. And you never know where you’ll run into that recruiting manager in the future…

I wish you every success with your job applications,

Regards, Dennis.

Picture 15Founder and Managing Director of HealthyPeople. Suffer the curse of thinking all my ideas are good ones. Driven to help people enjoy the career/business in fitness that they’re looking for. Catch my HealthyPeople updates via @dennishosking


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