If you passed the initial screening further communication might indicate their interest in a telephone interview at a convenient time and date. The job market has evolved greatly compared to what it was a decade or two ago.
Nowadays, employers use the telephone interview to sift through the large pool of applications that land on their desk. The reality is that most companies and businesses cannot pull the resources needed to interview all applicants for a specific job – it would take them a long time, not to mention the cost. With this in mind, interviewees should use the present opportunity to express their abilities in the best way possible. It is a good idea to maintain an upstanding posture and animate your voice so as to sound more enthusiastic and energized.
While you have been accorded the freedom to dress and look as you please, your competence is enhanced by dressing the part. It is important to note that the person you will interact with at this level will either be a HR consultant or junior HR personnel. At this stage, the goal is to establish if you are a good match for the role; this comes out in the way you communicate and express your candidacy.
According to career coach Lori B. Rassas, “Every answer you give, regardless of the question, should be tied to a specific job task or qualification for the position for which you have applied. The reason why is simple: Because you cannot assume that a preliminary phone call will lead to a formal interview, you have to make the most of the phone call and approach it as if it were an interview.” At all costs, stay the course by answering questions only as they have been asked. This not only applies to the telephone interview but also formal setups where the interviewees are assessed in person.
A telephone interview should be around 15 minutes with some extending up to an hour. Since you get the notification for this event at least a day ahead, create adequate time in your schedule and organize a quiet place. If you must take the interview from your house, make arrangements to have someone come over to look after your pets, kids, and basically handle possible interruptions. The idea here is to give the interviewer fewer issues (unrelated to the job application) on which to disqualify you.
Career coach Diane Huth advises job seekers to, “arrange to have a mirror over or next to the phone so you can look at yourself while you are talking. When you get the visual feedback from seeing yourself speak, you will tend to speak more robustly and pleasantly, and your smile and enthusiasm will come through more clearly.” How do you think telemarketers sound so confident and talk you into buying something without having seen it?
For most people in their 50s and 60s, it comes naturally that they add snippets of family life into almost all their conversations. Avoid doing this. The first initial interview should be all about how qualified you are for the present job. There are still people who will discriminate against potential employees based on their age so be wary that this could happen to you. You can however get around this risk by including active physical activities in your resume. Also, avoid negative comments about technology or digital social interactions.
Your mission at this interview is to demystify any possible preconceived opinions about your personality, age and experience that might stand in the way of you being considered a worthy candidate. At the very least, express your desire to learn continuously, adopt new ways of delivering your tasks and collaborate with staff members in various capacities to meet the objectives of the employer.
According to employment coaches Elizabeth O’Neil and Toby Haberkom, “It’s important that you do not exhibit the stereotype of an older worker having little energy, not being familiar with technology or unable to work with younger colleagues.” Pay attention to the manner in which your speech sounds. Too many pauses in between words or sentences could give the impression that your age has slowed your mental ability.
It is normal to feel inadequately prepared for an interview. Your best defense should be to be prepared. It can be very helpful to have the following “cheat sheet pointers” within plain sight at the start of the call:
• Job-specific qualifications and experience
• Unique personal attributes that enhance your suitability for the job
• Key information on the company
• Valid and clear reasons for issues on the resume such as extended unemployment and job shifts
• Positives about being an older employee – have reference scenarios where you undertook a project alongside younger team members.
• Have an answer to the question on the expected contribution that you anticipate you can make in the role
• Past and present pay grades along with your expectations in this new job (wait for the interviewer to bring up this subject)
• Additional value you could bring to the role that some other applicants may not have e.g. experience in report writing, mentoring, public speaking, project management, or even contacts at a senior level in the same industry as potential customers.
If you treat the phone interview as an actual interview, you will ensure you maximize your opportunity to be seen in the best light.