Phone and personal interviews

Many Newcomers wonder what is the difference between a phone interview and a personal interview. But more importantly, how do you make a good impression at either interview so that you get shortlisted for the job.

Phone interview are usually the first interview done by the HR department or recruitment firm to shortlist the candidates. But before you are even shortlisted for the phone interview, your résumé and cover letter needs to help you get shortlisted. For more information on this, go to making your résumé.

During this shortlist time, the HR person usually calls candidates to check on a few basic details and expectations in terms of salary. If you are a Newcomer looking for your first job, then make sure you have researched the average salary range for the position. If you are looking for a change, you may also be looking to improve on your salary. Be careful not to over price or under-price yourself. If you over price yourself, you will get eliminated from the shortlist. If you under-price yourself, you will be lower on the salary band and feel dissatisfied later. But as a general rule, go a little lower on the average if you really want the job and start a career in Canada.

Even though this is the first interview, don’t assume it is not important. Make sure you highlight your experience and skills to make sure you get shortlisted for the job. Candidates that the HR person does not feel good about will not make it to the second round. Most important, make sure you call back promptly and be on time for the interview. So many candidates that apply for a job are never met because they don’t call the HR person back on time.

Phone interviews are used by a company to hire a candidate that is not local. Like if you apply to a job in another city. I find that phone interview are much more difficult that personal interviews. This is because you cannot see people’s reactions when you answer their questions. And sometimes you may end the interview wondering how you did. So prepare hard for these interviews by practicing how you can convey your personality and feeling just through your voice. Here is a good article to outlines some tips for phone interview. The one thing that I always do is make sure I smile and talk when I am giving a phone interview. You will be surprised that the interviewer will be able to hear your smile when talking to you.

If you make it through the first round of phone interviews, then you are called in for a personal interview with the hiring manager and possibly others in the company. Why other people besides the hiring manager? Because you may work with many  other people in the company very closely, even more than your manager. So it is not uncommon to interview with the manager’s manager, peers and even with people you will manage. Hiring managers want to make sure that candidates are going to fit in the team and company. And the feedback of all these people is considered before choosing the final candidate.

Whether you are giving a phone or personal interview, make sure you find a way to WOW the people you meet. This can happen if you really prepare hard for potential questions and going that extra mile. I got my first job in Canada by making a presentation to a person I met for coffee. I told her about what initiatives she can take to help improve the business. Remember, this was just a coffee meeting, not a formal interview. The reason she gave me the job was because she really appreciate the hard work I put in and my initiative. By the way, the ideas that I presented were not new or amazing. She came to the meeting expecting to ask me questions. She did not ask me any interview questions because I already showed what I could do with my presentation. For the hiring manager that is better than asking a questions and guessing how good the person is from their answers.

So don’t be too concerned about how you interview for your jobs – make sure you prepare for each one and try to WOW the person by taking initiative.

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