How to Ace a Phone Screen (or Interview!)

Got a request from a good friend of mine, so I thought I’d go over some tips to blast through the phone screen and get yourself invited for an interview. (These tricks are also great for the interview itself!)

Quick announcement first though: I’ve started helping friends & contacts out with resumes, cover letters… everything related to applying for a job really! If you’d like some help, feel free to leave me a message here, Tweet or Facebook me. 

Now, for phone screens!

You can learn to speak “good” like me! Credit:

What is the purpose of a phone screen?

  • To make sure you have the experience a recruiter/hiring manager is looking for. Did you lie on your resume? Are your position titles misleading? Did you work on a specific task on a daily basis or do a few hours each month… These are the kinds of things that will be checked during a phone screen. 
  • To check your communication skills. Are you awkward or uncomfortable to speak with? Will you be able to communicate with customers, colleagues and managers in a professional manner? Those things are important! If you thought your English and Comm. professors were full of it… you’re going to regret it now!

Here’s how to shine:

  • Don’t lie on your resume. Sounds obvious, but a lot of people do it anyway. The truth will come out at some point, and you won’t end up getting the position. Instead, you will waste your time going through process and end up on agency DO NOT CALL lists. PS: if you do get the position, you could get fired for lying, so just don’t do it. Seriously.
  • Determine what the most important things you did are. First, identity the key tasks and skills mentioned in the job description. What have you done that is similar or helped you develop those skills? Those are the things you want to focus on to convince your interviewer that you have what they’re looking for.
  • Practice talking about the things you did at your different positions. Tell your friends, your family, your dog, your cat… hell, tell your neighbor! The more you talk about it, the more comfortable you will be telling your interviewer about it despite being nervous. This means you won’t stumble as much, or mumble…. or fill the conversation with as many “ums.”
  • Relaaaaax. Stress can make you sound less capable than you really are, so take a deep breath, do some stress-relief exercises, and make sure you’ve done everything you can to prepare beforehand so you’re as comfortable as possible =]
  • Research. Doing a little research on the company is one of those important things you can do to prepare so you’re as comfortable as possible during your screen (mentioned under “Relaaaax.”) I doubt most places expect you to know everything about their company for a preliminary phone screen, but it’s still good to have some kind of understanding of what they do and be able to explain why you want to work for them.
  • Join ToastMasters. So what if you really just don’t feel comfortable communicating / feel really awkward? Check these guys out:  They’ll help you practice giving speeches in an accepting environment (yes, it WILL help you!), give you practical tips, and, most importantly, force you to practice!

Let me know if this was helpful!

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

Are Social Media the Reason You Can’t Get a Job?

Title kind of gets the point across pretty clearly, doesn’t it?

See what I mean about inappropriate photos?

Here are some of the things you may be doing unwittingly that DON’T make you look like a good candidate:

  1. Inappropriate profile pictures. It’s the oldest one in the book, but still super widespread. Pictures of you flipping someone off as your Google+ / Gmail logo? Probably doesn’t make you look very professional…. just saying. (Oh, and same goes for pictures of you looking drugged in lingerie on Facebook.)
  2. Vulgar comments. Do you want the first impression your potential future employer has of you to be a public tweet claiming women “are ho’s and good for one thing only.” ? Pretty self-explanatory, right?
  3. Iffy Humor. I once found a LinkedIn profile with this position listed: Hot Anal Sex at Over the Counter from 1969-1969. Yes, it did make me crack up since it was so out of place, but it definitely made me reconsider reaching out to that candidate!
  4. Links on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is meant to be a professional platform, so I don’t recommend including links to personal websites or social media profiles that aren’t professional. ie, don’t include your Twitter profile where your personal URL leads to a website of you nude modeling (well, unless you’re only applying to modeling gigs!)
  5. Privacy. Yes, you are entitled to is, so use it. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t need to have access to your Facebook profile (which we do if your privacy settings are set to public, ie for anyone and everyone to see), so if you even suspect there may be something in there that doesn’t look professional, you might just want to set it to “friends only.” No, this does not make you look suspicious — people are entitled to privacy. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have somehing to hide.

I know all of this sounds pretty common sensical, but it’s actually quite common and you may be sending out some of those negative signals without meaning to. Couldn’t hurt to double check just to make sure, right?

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

Sophie’s Job Search Toolbox

Time to become a young professional headed for the future — cheesy photo and everything!!

I’ve written several articles geared toward helping recent grads (and anyone else, really) get a job and plan on writing several more so I thought I would gather all of them neatly in one place O=]

How to Make a Recruiter Like Your Resume

Writing a Kick-Ass Cover Letter

LinkedIn Can Help You Get a Job!

How to Apply to Jobs

Why HR Is Rejecting Your Resume

Are Social Media the Reason You Can’t Get a Job?

Will Playing Hard-To-Get Help You Land Your Dream Job?

How to Ace a Phone Screen (Or Interview!)

How to Structure a Resume

Freebie from before I got into recruiting — How to Get a Job 7 Tips

And many more to come…

A Sweet Last Day at Contract Live

As anyone who read my last blog post knows, Friday was my last day at Contract Live. Before I share pictures from my going-away party, I’d like to briefly explain the reason for my departure.

The short of it is that it just wasn’t the right startup for me. My bosses and I agreed that someone else would be a better match for the startup and the position, so we’re leaving on very good terms =]

This was a very interesting first experience working in France: I got a great introduction into French startups, learned a lot about how things work here, and had a very intelligent boss to learn all sorts of things from. It may not be the best place for me, but I definitely don’t perceive it as time wasted and will keep some nice memories!

So now it’s time to get back out there and look for work =] Do let me know if you hear of any Bay Area startups looking for someone to come in and help with comm., social media and e-marketing, amongst other things O=]

I’m still waiting on pictures (and videos ;D) to come in from coworkers, but here’s a sneak peak and I’ll update this post once I have everything.

I hid Kinder Surprise (Yum!) eggs all over our office for everyone to find in an early Easter celebration! There was one hidden in the printer O=D

Bowser laid an egg!

Project Happy: I have 2 moments to share from today.

1.) I had tons of fun riding on the back of a friend’s motorcycle all over Paris. We drove alongside the Seine River to go to the Eiffel Tower =]

2.) That same friend told me I seemed like an energetic, smart kid and that I’d be going places, so he’d like me to hit him up when I decide to start my own business (I’m sooo flattered he thinks I have so much potential and have what it takes to create my own startup <3)

What about you? Tell me about a nice moment you had today =]

The New Way of Finding Work: Venturocket

I finally got my camera memory card back! I discovered several startups I’m very excited to tell you about, but let’s take this one at a time. First up: Venturocket.

Doesn’t their webpage look cool?!

First of all, these guys had a great, eye-catching display with an actual rocket (get launched into a new career anyone? Corny, I know, but I really wanted to type that!) Secondly, they came up with a very intelligent, practical way of helping recruiters and job-seekers connect.

Told you their display was cool ;D

These guys are no LinkedIn (not that they have anything against LinkedIn or any other tool–heck, they’d probably be interested in partnering!) Like a true startup, Venturocket innovates on several points:

  1. They get rid of résumé padding. All you see is the skills themselves, without all the nonsense to distract you.
  2. There’s no trivial features. No paying extra to put your résumé at the top of the list–which I honestly do not think does much good since recruiters aren’t going to keep you if you’re not what they need anyway. (Oh, and it just might make you seem a little desperate.)
  3. You only pay if you found what you needed. Job-seekers don’t pay to put a résumé up. Employers don’t pay to post a job. No one pays to look through profiles or ads. You only pay if you find someone. Have I mentioned this enough?
  4. Venturocket promotes honesty. Both the recruiter AND the job-seeker pay if there is a match (and they pay the same amount.) Would you pay to connect with an employer who wanted to meet you because of misleading information? On the flip side, I don’t think an employer would pay to meet someone who didn’t meet their criteria either, so I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say you’re getting an interview.
  5. The price is literally based on skills and demand. Candidates “bid” money on their skills (the amount goes up with the level of proficiency in each skill) and the employer only pays for the skills s/he is interested in.

I thought this seemed like a very intelligent, practical way of connecting people. But what do you think? Does it make sense to you? Would you use it?

Go on their website and try it out if you didn’t understand some of the things I mentioned (and make sure you come back to tell us about it!) Or you can always post questions here too =]

*** Read more startup interviews & news or stock up on job search & interview tips on my Job Search Toolbox! ***