Phone interviews are just as important as any other interview, and they are fast becoming the new normal for every company in the world - well beyond the initial screening call.
As an HR tech platform - remote onboarding is our bread and butter. The phone interview is a style we’ve been perfecting for 3 years now, and I’ve learnt a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. In this post, I’ve pulled together some of my top tips for jobseekers today to make sure they are set up for success, and able to showcase themselves to the best of their ability through an audio-only platform.
Timing is everything, and if your interviewer has called at a difficult time, don’t be afraid to say so! It’s totally OK to ask for a callback if you get caught off guard, or at a bad time. Recruiters would much rather you suggested a better time, then have a conversation where there’s constant interruptions or distractions in the background.
As soon as you start engaging with a company you’re applying for - take the time to research and the role itself. Make sure you’re across their Missions and Values so that you can express your passion for the company and start to think about why you are a great fit ahead of that very first call.
Your interviewer is unable to see your face, and this means that they are going to be extra tuned into your tone of voice. Take a moment to get in the right frame of mind beforehand if you can, make sure you are in a safe and quiet environment where you feel as comfortable as possible and have a glass of water to hand if you know that you might get a tickly throat and find it difficult to articulate yourself.
Even if you don’t feel totally at ease, a calm and upbeat tone of voice is essential as your interviewer tries to gain an insight into the type of person you are. ‘Fake it til you Make it’ as they say - and if you can come across as energetic and positive, with a can-do attitude you will be proposing yourself as a productive team player who would be a great addition to any team.
Speak clearly and be conscious to slow down your words because most of us speed up our normal pace when we’re nervous. Take a deep breath and have a pause to think about your response before you answer. Chances are your answer will come across a lot better than if you launch into a response immediately.
A key part of communication is listening. In your phone interview, make sure you practise ‘Active Listening’ - a technique which requires you to fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said. Active listening also means showing active signs of interest in, and comprehension of the interviewer. In face to face interactions, non-verbal signs of active listening can include nodding, smiling and maintaining eye contact, but of course none of these can be translated on the phone. A simple “Yes” or “Mmm hmm” can serve as a verbal sign in this case.
It is important to answer questions accurately. Techniques that may help you with this are Repetition and Clarification. Repeating a summary of what has been asked back to the interviewer in your own words gives you a chance to show that you have absorbed and understood what is being asked logically and clearly, and also buys you a little extra time to craft your answer.
Remember, if you are successful you could end up representing the brand so keep this in mind with your responses. While it's great to be personal and honest, remember that you’re applying for a job, not having a chat with a friend. That means maintaining a professional air - no swearing or bad-mouthing previous companies!
Hirers can spot (and hear!) lies or inaccuracies a mile away. Transparency is key in all interviews, not just telephone interviews. A lie told in a phone interview will only come up again and lead to embarrassment. Try to stick to real-life examples and be as accurate as possible. For example, instead of saying “I always meet my KPIs” give an example of what specific metric you worked towards and how you achieved it.
Finally, be yourself. You have the best chance to succeed in your career if you believe in yourself, know your capabilities and are able to articulate your thoughts to your team. If you have the confidence to present yourself truthfully and honestly, the interview will have a better chance of identifying that you are the right person for the job.
Now go ahead and nail that phone interview! For more tips and tricks on how to be a great employee, head to the Weployee blog here
Over the last 25+ years I have worked with some amazingly talented people at some of Australia’s largest Finance, Software and Insurance companies, in roles spanning C-level management, go-to-market strategy, planning and senior corporate leadership. I completed an MBA in 2013 whilst simultaneously launching two businesses and raising 3 gorgeous children. Over the past 8 years, I have been been recognised for the high-growth success of Digivizer as an entrepreneur and disruptor and have always tried to give back to others looking to launch and build their own businesses.
Today, Digivizer is now a 55+ person business with an established presence in 14 countries and a Founder of goto.game, a leading gaming and esports destination. We provide creative services and technology to global brands like Microsoft, Lenovo, Intel, Google, Optus, Bethesda as well as a number of Australian fast growth companies.
I put the success of Digivizer down to the talent we’ve hired and the culture we have built. You need to find a way to attract, engage, motivate and reward especially when you are a smaller, lesser known company, or starting up and competing for that talent against big name corporations with attractive salaries, big budgets and established brands.
This has been a core focus of mine at Digivizer. We’ve spent significant time working on our hiring strategies, recruiting for the very best talent and finding ways to appeal to them. Over the years, my experience has helped me narrow down to the top five key skills or traits we look for. And all 5 need to be met or we keep looking. These are:
Small businesses and startups often attract the smartest people in the market because they offer opportunities to make a real difference from the first day at the company, and for the most part, smart people are hungry to make a change. To do things never attempted or delivered before in newer, more flexible ways we ever thought possible. It will take work to keep these people however – it means understanding everyone as a unique individual, having a clearly-articulated vision for the company, having well-defined opportunities to contribute, to share success, and to reward when the big prize is won (and with smaller prizes along the way). Although you can have the world’s smartest person, they must be able to handle anything that is thrown to them.
I’ve learnt to look beyond technical skills in the search for new talent, delving a little deeper and looking for offline experience, attitude, and personal and behavioural attributes like entrepreneurial spirit, preparedness to embrace uncertainty, and being prepared to commit to a cause and creatively problem-solve. Vision, and that ‘elusive great idea’, might provide the spark, but the fire that follows will only be kept alight by talented people doing clever things, who are prepared to collaborate with other talented people. By looking for those people, we have ended up with a team of men and women, young and old at Digivizer, from diverse ethnic backgrounds - from China to Sri Lanka, India to New Zealand. I’ve realized that meaningful diversity comes from opportunity, and from hiring the best-possible skills that we can, from wherever we can. True diversity has been integral to the success of Digivizer. And talent is the raw element that leverages all that diversity towards the vision we as a company aspire for.
3. Infinite learners
We regularly poll our team on what they value, and consistently one of the strongest values is our desire and ability to be Infinite Learners. The biggest value you can offer your talent is better than a “MBA every day”. We involve our team in setting development goals and expose them into inputting into strategy, planning, pricing, even our values (and our recruitment strategy) - all the key decisions! The more they feel they can influence change and do things better, the greater the learning mindset and ability to pivot fast
4. Doers not Sayers
Business success is about actually getting things done. At every level of the business, it is important to develop a meaningful plan with key measures of success. Then, this needs to be translated into actions and specific, measurable, deliverables. You need to measure all that you do and refine on the way. I love Eisenhower’s quote on planning: ‘In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.’ However it is more critical to measure and reward outcome and what gets done, rather than effort and intent. This is an important distinction that also allows us to support flexibility: we’re focussed entirely on the right thing being delivered (not where or how people work to get there).
5. Not an Arsehole
Pretty self-explanatory I’m sure! We have no room for ego, rudeness or disrespect. Our team will call people out if they see poor behaviour and we continuously find ways to ensure maximum sharing, collaboration, integration, x-project management to keep our organisation as flat as we can.
For businesses looking to attract top talent in the future of work, hiring should start with these top 5 traits and characteristics. At Digivizer, our values crafted by our employees themselves. They are non-negotiable, focusing on “one team, one dream”, truth and transparency, responsibility, courage and growth.We ensure everyone is clear about our vision, our objectives, our values, our success measures and that we care mostly about our customers success. We then continually check on progress with everyone. Nothing beats survey data around employee engagement, performance, and satisfaction and how well we live our values, to ensure we get this part of our business right and the best it can be. Our leadership mantra is simple - grow people and you grow business. Spending time understanding and providing challenges for people, is the surest way to deliver growth.
The talent pool of Weployees are pre-screened for all the soft skills mentioned above, and are ready to hit the ground running to help grow your business too.
The protagonist played by Robert de Niro is Ben, a 70-year old widower who, bored of his retirement, applies as part of a community outreach programme to be a senior intern at fast growing eCommerce fashion Startup About The Fit in New York. The CEO and founder, Jules (Anne Hathaway) is the kind of heroine who many of us already know several examples of, struggling to align her career success, with motherhood, immaculate personal grooming and a healthy work/life balance; due mostly to her own impossibly high standards. Initially sceptical of Ben’s relevance within her business, Jules is eventually won over by Ben’s unapologetic, traditionalism honed after a 40+ year career working slowly up the ranks of a corporate. Although the team at About The Fit are good, (we know this because the boys have beards and wear slogan tees, the girls have edgy multi-coloured hair and everyone drinks a lot of coffee) Ben ends up teaching them all a thing or two and everyone steps up their game as a result. Married for 46 years and working for the same company for several decades, Ben teaches one of the plaid shirted young men the value of loyalty - both with a girl he’s dating, and for the company too. He watches Jules closely, learning and listening for what will help make her job easier, and in turn, helping the business runs more effectively. He picks up tasks without ego, even if that does mean helping the mail guy sort out the post, or cleaning up the desks. He calls Jules’ assistant Becky his “Boss”, not patronisingly, but to remind the frazzled 20-something year old that she is in charge, and motivate her accordingly. Research shows that teams with Gender, Age and Geographical diversity make better decisions up to 87% of the time and Ben’s addition to the youthful team at About The Fit shows exactly why.
The State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia report reveals that one in five Australian workers is currently experiencing a mental health condition and anxiety and depression are the most common of these. With much of people’s time each day spent at work, the workplace is very influential when it comes to mental health and therefore, each employer has a responsibility to maintain a positive and healthy environment that when executed well, will have business benefits too.