Candidates often spend lots of time on the process of finding job openings. Hours go into scanning LinkedIn or Indeed for opportunities, making phone calls, and emailing resumes out, all in hopes of creating interest in their candidacy. Because so much work goes into getting noticed and landing a phone interview, often times candidates have little energy left to adequately prepare for the call. Below are some simple suggestions to ensure that all your hard work in attaining a phone interview is not wasted and that an invitation to an on-site interview is sure to follow.

THE SCREENING

Hiring managers are evaluating you in three main areas during a phone interview: your technical fit for the position, your personality and fit for the group, and your verbal communication skills. Hiring managers need to know that each candidate possesses the relevant technical skills necessary for the position. The keys to the technical questions the hiring manager will ask you are usually located in the job description.

Prior to your phone interview, familiarize yourself with the bullet points from the required skills section of the job description. Highlight the points in the job description where you see the words “required” and “preferred” and begin thinking of examples of where your experience aligns with those skills. Write your answers out and keep them near the phone for your call. You will be asked about the required skill set, so do not be caught off guard about these inevitable questions.

If there are required skills listed in the job description that you do not have experience with, do not worry. Simply state that you are familiar with that skill, are a quick learner, and are genuinely interested in developing that experience. Many hiring managers will overlook this if they are convinced the candidate is a fast learner and has a genuine interest in acquiring the knowledge in question.

IT TAKES PERSONALITY

An important part of any job interview processes is a candidate’s personality fit with the group. Although this will be more of a focus when in an in-person interview, the interviewer will certainly be trying to get a feel for the candidate’s personality over the phone. It can be difficult to express your personality in a short phone interview. To do this, you must match the style of the interviewer and exhibit enthusiasm for the position and the company.

MATCHING STYLE

The cue to the hiring manager’s style will be in the way he or she starts the conversation. If the hiring manager gets right to business, you are dealing with someone who is a matter of fact and possibly very busy. Do not try and lighten the call; simply respond with the same serious approach.

If, on the other hand. the hiring manager sounds very upbeat and starts the call by discussing personal matters, return the favor and try and open up some. If you feel high energy in the interviewer’s voice, you will want to be upbeat as well.

SHOW ENTHUSIASM

First, make sure you tell the interviewer that you are interested in and excited about the position. Many candidates forget to actually say this during a phone interview.

Additionally, prior to the phone interview, go to the company web site and look at the company’s product portfolio. Familiarize yourself with not only the job description but also how that position fits into the company’s overall drug development pipeline.

After viewing the product pipeline, scan the company’s recent news section and work that information into your phone interview. This will show that you have done your homework.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Verbal communication is a key component of the phone interview evaluation. The two questions a hiring manager will be looking to answer is whether you can answer questions clearly and concisely and whether you are able to give more than just yes and no answers. Be mindful of rambling but make sure to elaborate on every answer you give.

We often hear from hiring managers that when a candidate answers in solely yes’s or no’s, the hiring manager automatically questions the candidate’s aptitude. Conversely, if you do all the talking and some of it seems aimless, hiring managers will also question your aptitude.

The best way to avoid this is to have prepared examples of your skills written out and next to the phone. This should keep you on point and prevent you from being too verbose.

FINAL

As a rule, listen more than you talk. Likewise, try and find a private place to take the interview where you are not worried about others listening to your conversation. If you are in a cube, this may mean that you would need to schedule calls before or after the workday. Interviewers would rather accommodate a time before or after work than deal with cryptic or half answers. Know that a call from human resources (HR) will be very different than a call from a hiring manager. The HR call will be more about you personally, while the hiring manager will discuss more of your technical background.

Interviewing can be an overwhelming experience, especially for new graduates entering the workforce or seasoned professionals who are finding themselves on the market for the first time in many years. Follow this advice and ace your phone screening to land the opportunity to interview in person.

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