We’ve received your application and would like to set up an initial phone screen with someone from our office. Will you have some availability this week?
You read this line and think: OH GREAT! Round one of potentially 17 more interviews and screens. Who do they have me talking to? Will they know much about the role? What a waste of time!!!!
STOP! Literally – FREEZE. Let me tell you something.
Phone Screens are an AMAZING introduction to a company. Think about it:
You do not have to get all gussied up! In fact you can wear your Spiderman pajamas. Fess up, you know you have a pair.
You are able to find out more information about the role, company, expectations, and culture without traveling into the city and paying for parking. ($30 for 2 hours???? You are now contemplating investing in a parking garage aren’t you? I certainly am!)
It is a GREAT opportunity to talk with decision makers and network! (If you EVER have the opportunity to connect on a phone screen with a Director of Anything – Creative Director, Art Director, Director of Marketing – DO IT. They are very well connected and should you two really hit it off, they will have no problem thinking of you in conversation with their industry friends). I cannot tell you how many folks have cancelled phone screens because they are “expecting an offer” only to call me after I’ve cancelled their screen to say it fell through. TAKE THE SCREEN!
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah you say? So what’s the point?
1) Hiring managers get the opportunity to evaluate basic fit, personality match, and technical ability pretty quickly. Thus saving you both time and energy!
2) You both get the opportunity to vet out each other and ask fact-finding questions while still being somewhat brief. Think of how relieved you will be when 5 minutes into the conversation they spill the beans that they make ice cream sundaes on Fridays? Or that they have great vacation benefits? You can see where my priorities lie.
3) It gives you a less intense opportunity to talk yourself up so that when you go in for an in-person interview – they already have the warm fuzzies about you. And who does not like a warm fuzzy?
So how to make it happen?
1) Always make sure you research the company in depth – press releases, web presence (especially if you are being considered for any type of web position), social media (follow them on Twitter, etc.), Google them, and if you are able to look into the person you’re speaking with – DOUBLE BONUS! What if you both went to the same University?
2) Always make sure you are in an area with a land line or good cell phone reception.
3) Stand while you are doing the screen. You would be surprised at how much it really increases your energy level. I always encourage the two S’s of Screening: Standing and Smiling.
4) Prepare two solid questions for the end of the conversation – you NEVER want to end the call with “Any Questions?” and you responding “Nah. I’m good.”
5) If you are talking about a graphic design role, make sure you have samples at the ready to send/share and that you can easily talk about your contributions. If they are a travel company and you have great travel samples – they should know about it.
6) Don’t use it as an opportunity to lay down demands – “I will only consider this role if you offer 4 weeks of vacation!” You never know the types of perks the company will become open to once they’ve gotten the chance to know you better.
And finally – please LOOK OVER HERE!! Send a thank you note.
Either by web or pony express – send it! Make sure to get their email address before you hang up. A well written thank you note often is the deciding factor between the top two candidates. True story!