Knock Em’ Dead: Phone Interview Etiquette

Congratulations! Landing a phone interview means you most likely have the necessary skills and requirements for the job. Your mission during a phone interview is to explain more about your skills to earn an in-person meeting — and to ultimately land the job. Companies usually conduct phone interviews because they don’t have enough resources to manage in-person interviews with every qualified applicant. It is a screening technique that saves the company time, which is why companies refer to them as “phone screens.”

Your mission during a phone interview is to earn an in-person meeting, and to ultimately land the job. Preparing is similar to that of an in-person interview, except you will want to keep these pointers in mind:

Set up in a quiet area, one that is in a controlled environment with no background noise and outside influence. Keep your area pet free, as these noises can be distracting. It is best to use a landline during your call, but if you need to use your mobile be sure the battery is charged, you have good reception, and the volume is turned up.

Dress up just as you would to an in-person interview. Dressing up and sitting in an upright position will put you in the right mindset and keep you focused. Trust us, dressing in pajamas slouched in bed or on the couch will only knock you off your focus — and translate through to your voice!

Print out your ZippyApp application and have it in front of you during your call. The interviewer will most likely ask about the details you included on your application, like your past work experience and skills. You will want to have a copy so you don’t get caught off guard or stumble on a question. It is also good to have one just in case your Internet connection crashes.

Prepare yourself by researching the company and the job description just like you would for an in-person interview. We discussed this in detail in last week’s Blog.

Check your body language. Even though the interviewer won’t be able to see you, your body language can be reflective in your enthusiasm and excitement during your call. Be sure to smile, as it will bring energy and excitement to your voice. Sit up in an upright position and stay in one place – don’t move around and pace from room-to-room.

Don’t mention pay or benefits just yet. In fact, leave that conversation time and place up to the interviewer. Even though these are important factors, you don’t want to come across like these are the only things you are interested in.

Follow up with a thank-you email to the interviewer after an hour or two. Following up so soon after is perfectly OK, since the phone interview process is shorter (you usually want to wait a day or two after an in-person meet up to follow up). If you don’t already have it, be sure to ask the interviewer for their email address before you hang up.

Be Ready for out-of-the-blue calls, a tactic some hiring managers use to see how prepared you are. Be wary when answering unfamiliar numbers, and if you do answer the call and are asked for an interview, it is OK to tell them you need to call back, which will give you time to prepare and organize yourself.

Have any phone interview etiquette tips to share? Our job seekers would love to hear from you!

The Cover Letter Debate

Cover letter, or no cover letter? Different hiring managers have different perceptions on this. One argument is that it depends on the position you are applying to, however, that doesn’t ring true for jobs on ZippyApp. On average and across all types of jobs on our platform, users who attach a cover letter get contacted 50% more than those who don’t — that’s a huge difference!

So now that you know you do need a cover letter to up your chances of landing the job, the question becomes how do you write a cover letter that will get you noticed? Here are some pointers to get you started!

For starters, it’s important to know the purpose of a cover letter. One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is that they repeat the information that is in their resume or application. This is a sure way to get your application passed over. Hiring managers don’t want to read information they know will be in your application. Instead, use your cover letter to entice hiring managers to learn more about you, and want to look at your application. Be sure to highlight and explain why you are the best fit for the position.  A great way to think about this is to put yourself into the hiring managers shoes — explain how you will solve their problem.

The biggest challenge when applying for a job is making yourself stand out. Using the right keywords is a great way to get noticed! The company’s profile and job description on ZippyApp is a great start in obtaining the right keywords. For example, a key part of Asian Box’s job descriptions is to be “friendly,” while being a “team player” is a requirement of joining the CREAM team. In a cover letter to Asian Box, you might say “my friendly and outgoing personality will provide a better customer experience, which will contribute to more repeat customers.” Not only are you using keywords Asian Box is looking for, you are also explaining how you will fix their problem.

Here is an example cover letter:

Mary Smith

March 3, 2015,

Dear Hiring Manager,

I wish to apply for the Server position with The Counter team, which is advertised here on ZippyApp. I have no doubt I have the capabilities of handling all requirements of the position, and have included my application for your review.

My excellent people skills will provide memorable dining experiences for customers, in-turn providing repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals. I am currently attending San Jose State University, where I am studying Hospitality Management and want to pursue a career in restaurant management. I also worked as a Host and a Server at Spaghetti Factory, and can provide you with glowing references from past managers.

I would welcome the opportunity to speak more with you about what I have been doing in detail, and would love to hear more about this position. Thank you so much for considering my application today!

Best Regards,

Mary Smith

Key Take-Aways:

  • Tailor your cover letter for each job you are applying to.
  • Use keywords specific to each company to make your cover letter stand out.
  • Don’t repeat the information hiring managers will find in your application.
  • Do highlight and explain why you are the best fit for the position.
  • Explain to hiring managers how you will solve their problem.