Previously on Undercover Job Search, I landed a phone interview for a part-time resume writer role at Superjobs (the name is changed to protect the innocent).
Need to get caught up?
Click on the links for Part 1 that answers the question, Should I apply? Also known as - Interpreting the Job Description.
And, Part 2 that answers the question,
Do I have the right equipment (resume + cover letter) in order to apply?
Today, the phone interview.
The phone interview or video chat is frequently the first step in the hiring process for many companies. Being contacted to participate tells me that my materials did exactly what they were supposed to do – they got the hiring manager’s attention.
Preparing for the phone interview
Though every company does it differently, a phone interview is likely a preliminary screening with the interviewer who will layout the basic parameters of the job. Even so, prepare thoroughly. There are tangible benefits to doing a strong preparation and to making a strong showing. Many job searchers blow off researching the company until they get to a serious stage of interviewing. MISTAKE!
Here's how I approached the phone interview:
I figured for a remote service like this (Superjobs resume writer role), the interview would involve some discussion of fee/hourly rate. I researched common rates for this service when working for a company like Superjobs, (salary.com is a good resource).The usual hourly rate was too low for me. But, I decided to have the phone interview anyway so I could learn more about the company that had already impressed me. And, I was prepared to ask for the highest end of the pay scale. Because, ya nevah know.
Some important preparation:
I made sure I had information on my interviewer handy (hello LinkedIn), some examples of different clients I’ve worked with (types of businesses, career levels and work experience), and questions about the role. Just in case, I thought through some answers to standard behavior interview questions (tell me about yourself, what’s your weakness? etc.).
I dressed for an in-person interview even though no one would see me. I made sure I wouldn’t be interrupted, had water within reach, and did my standard relaxation techniques (the same ones I do daily and pre-stage performance).
On the call
It became clear pretty quickly that they were not paying well at all for this job. The interviewer and I agreed that I was way too qualified and entitled to a much higher rate, which unfortunately, they weren’t offering. Sensing an opportunity, I mentioned that I was also interested in the part-time career coach role at the same company. My interviewer offered to send my information along to the hiring person for that role.
I secured that person’s contact information knowing I would have to revisit my resume and cover letter for the specifics of that role.
I sent a "thank you" email within a few hours. Always, do this and make it personal.
Building on the contact:
After some tweaks to my coaching resume (it already existed) and a new cover letter tailored to the part-time career coach role, I emailed another note to my phone interviewer thanking her for being willing to pass my information along to the other hiring manager. I attached my updated materials.
A few days later, I sent the new hiring person a short email with my materials attached.
I got a response within 24 hours and a calendar request to do a Zoom (video) interview.
🕵️♀️Don’t take a phone interview lightly – you never know what will come of it. Prepare. 🕵️♀️Take a risk to ask for more information, more money (if appropriate), or for direction from your interviewer. They are often an expert on their company’s needs and process. 🕵️♀️Follow up! 🕵️♀️(And, yes, "thank you" notes are a must, even if you thought the interview was a bust.)
Next up on Undercover Job Search – The Video interview