You’ve applied for a freelance job, a hiring manager has reviewed your resume and deemed your experience suitable to be considered and they’ve now requested a phone interview with you. But what is the purpose of the call, why would you not be asked to attend a traditional face-to-face meeting and what can you do to make sure you ace the interview?
Why a phone interview?
At first you might question why a company would conduct a phone interview at all. Well, in short it’s because most hiring managers are time-poor. Certainly in the freelance space that I work in, companies are looking to hire because they have a specific project that they’re needing immediate support with. They’re under the pump to deliver within set timeframes and there’s neither the time available, nor the necessity to hold a one hour face-to-face meeting when it might only be a one or two week project.
Having said that, the hiring manager will still be keen to ensure he’s bringing on the right person to deliver on the work required. A look over your resume or portfolio will outline most of that, but being able to clearly articulate your skills and experience and talk through similar projects you’ve completed in the past, who you worked alongside and what your specific involvement was is in essence the reason for the call.
So what can you do to ensure you’re going to ace the interview? The most important thing, as with any interview, is to prepare as much as possible. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because it’s only a short phone call that the hiring manager will not expect you to know your stuff.
Find out who you’re talking to and check them out on LinkedIn to see what their role is and what their background is. Even send a connection request in advance. So long as your profile is complete, you should have a photo which creates a human element and you’ll no longer be just a voice on the end of the phone. You can also see any shared connections or companies you may both have worked with in the past and allow for a conversation starter. It’s harder to build rapport over the phone than it is face-to-face, so having something in common to talk to about will be a huge plus.
During the phone interview
Once niceties are out of the way, it’s time to get into the important things. As I mentioned before, the phone interview is going to be a lot shorter than a face-to-face. You need to be able to articulate yourself clearly and succinctly.
Don’t go into huge detail about things that aren’t essential to know. You’re not pitching for a job, you’re pitching for a project. Stick to the important elements of your experience that align and explain how that is going to help the hiring manager complete the work that needs to be done.
Don’t be afraid to ask a few questions of your own. If you’re going through a recruiter a lot of the ground work should already have been done, but if you’ve never worked for that specific company before you might wish to know a bit about the team size, project deadline, key deliverables, or any future projects which could arise off the back of this work. Given you’re not going to meet the company before starting, it’s good to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Finally, make sure you’re in a quiet environment with good phone reception. The same goes for a Skype interview or video call. The last thing you need are connection issues, a crackly line or loud noises happening in the background. You still need to make an impression and wouldn’t want to frustrate the hiring manager.
Phone interviews are commonplace. If you ensure you’re prepared, ready and waiting at the scheduled time and have done your research then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ace it.