Survive On-The-Spot Phone Interviews

As a firm that works with both employers and job seekers, we know what goes on behind the scenes from both perspectives in the hiring process. Last week, we built an infographic to show how complicated recruitment has become, and the same holds true for interviewing. For example, throughout my early years of recruiting, our agency was committed to bringing in every individual for a formal meet and greet. Today, however, our multi-step process demands that each candidate must pass the phone screen phase, headed by our junior consultants, in order to qualify for a face-to-face with an executive recruiter.



The phone screen phase consists of not one, but two calls per viable candidate. The first call tests an individual’s soft skills as well as their baseline credentials, and, assuming he doesn’t get tossed in our “No Thank You” bin, he’ll receive another, this time more in-depth, phone interview to further assess his talent and dive into his career history. These days, employers expect us to take every precaution, forcing us to act efficiently and become much more selective in our choices. The phone screen phase did wonders for our interviewing results – our clients immediately saw a difference once we added a “weeding out” process, and it leaned out our recruiting strategy. However, it also complicated the lives of job seekers, demanding more than what was expected in the past.

To make matters worse, a new kind of hiring phenomenon emerged – the on-the-spot phone interview. And it’s exactly what it sounds like – an employer or hiring manager calls up an unknowing job seeker on the spot. Although they may sugarcoat it as a “casual few questions,” those queries are vital to their decision of whether or not to keep you on The List. The on-the-spot interview has created a deeper level of both fear and frustration on the job seeker’s part, and rightfully so. After all, they’re forced to be both on-call and on their A-game 24 hours a day, an undoubtedly exhausting reality. In fact, most candidates are caught off guard, and blow it. But, I’m telling you right now, half the battle to conquering these sneaky interviews is just being aware that they exist.



Preparation. As soon as you hit the “submit” button during the online application process, that’s your cue to start your preparation. You already sent over your resume and cover letter, customized to the specific job in question, so now it’s time to research. Visit the company website, connect with them on LinkedIn, and do a little digging on the career histories of executives at that firm. And I can’t stress this enough – write everything down: contacts, conversations, and relevant information.

Practice. Brush up on your interview skills and practice your answers for commonly asked questions as they relate to the job. Fine-tune your career story, or as we like to call it – the 60-second elevator pitch. And remember, the interview process is your opportunity to communicate how you can leverage your education, experience, and skills to solve an employer’s problem.

Participate. When an employer calls, one of two things typically happen. You’re familiar with how a phone works – they leave a brief message or they reach you. Either way, you need to be ready. As an active job seeker, your responsibility is to be prepared at a moment’s notice to answer their every beck and call. You can no longer assume that there will be time to deliberate. Instead, you must always have your resume and job description within arm’s reach. But not only should you be able to relate your background directly to the job, but you should also have questions ready for them as well. If you aren’t in a position to chat, make sure you still demonstrate interest, are apologetic, and ask for the opportunity to speak at a later time. But don’t wait more than 24 hours before returning their call.

Do you have an on-the-spot interview story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you – send us a message on Facebook!

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