Episode #76 – Important Steps for Securing a Face-to-Face Interview

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary Organizations hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the important steps involved in securing the face-to-face interview. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here again with you today.

Sharita: Stacy, we’ve talked a lot on this podcast about how to be successful during the interview. However, we haven’t talked a lot about HOW to get to the interview or about how a candidate can get to the interview stage of the hiring process. But that’s what we’re going to discuss today, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, a candidate’s main goal is to get an offer of employment, but they can’t get an offer until they land an interview. So that will be our focus today, steps that our listeners can take to increase their chances of being invited for a face-to-face interview with a potential new employer.

Sharita: Where would you like to start?

Stacy: I’d like to start with skills. The reason I want to start here is because skills speak to value. As we’ve discussed many times before, employers want value in their new employees. That means they want value in the candidates that they’re considering for their open positions. A person’s skills make up a large part of the value that they can offer to an employer.

Obviously, if you want to get to the interview stage, a candidate will need to have the skills necessary to get there.

Sharita: How many or how much of the skills do they need?

Stacy: A professional should have, at minimum, 80% to 85% of the skills required for the position. Obviously, 100% would be better. However, sometimes a candidate is hired with less than 100%. It depends upon the situation and what other value the candidate can offer to the employer.

If the job description includes a list of core skills, the candidate should not be missing any more than one of those skills. If they’re missing two or more of those core skills, then that greatly reduces the chances that they’ll be called for an interview.

Sharita: Let’s say that a candidate does have all of the skills needed. What’s next?

Stacy: Well, personal branding is an important consideration for candidates during the interview and hiring process. There are certain ways that candidates should want to brand themselves to the hiring manager.

Sharita: What are some of those ways?

Stacy: One way is to be responsive. If the hiring manager calls you and leaves a message or sends an email, you should respond in a timely fashion. That shows that you respect their time and that you respect the employer’s hiring process. It also brands you as a professional.

Another way is to communicate as much as possible. This includes both the frequency of the communication and the amount of information that you communicate. Of course, you don’t want to overload the hiring manager or come across as being a stalker. But your communication should convey that you’re engaged in the process and that you’re interested in the position.

Sharita: And this probably goes without saying, but this also translates to the executive recruiter if there is an executive recruiter involved in the search, is that right?

Stacy: Absolutely. If the candidate is working with an executive recruiter, they should be responsive with the recruiter and they should have an open line of communication with that recruiter, as well. These are important factors, both for personal branding and also for paving the way to a face-to-face interview.

Another way to brand yourself the right way during the hiring process is to do what you say you’re going to do. If you say that you’ll be available for a phone call at a certain time, make sure that you’re available. If you say that you’ll get back to the executive recruiter or the hiring manger with a piece of information by a certain time, make sure that you do so.

This brands you as being dependable and reliable. Employers want to hire dependable and reliable people. If you brand yourself as someone who is not dependable, then that will reflect poorly on you and also reduce the chances that you’ll get an interview. It’s a rather simple equation, but you’d be surprised by how many candidates are not able to figure it out. When they drop the ball it brands themselves poorly.

Sharita: Stacy, you mentioned how the candidate should make sure they’re available for a phone call if they say they will be. The phone interview is also an important part of the hiring process, isn’t it?

Stacy: Yes, it is, and I’m glad you mentioned that because it’s our next point of discussion.

Many times, candidates put more stock in a face-to-face interview than they do a phone interview. This is a mistake, since you won’t make it to the face to face interview without making a favorable impression during the phone interview.

And once again, this goes back to what we’ve said about assumptions. You can not assume that you’ll make it to the face-to-face interview. You can’t assume that a phone screen is a simple formality. If it was a formality, then the hiring manager would not even bother with it in the first place. No, if you have a phone interview scheduled, you should take it seriously because if you don’t perform well during it, then you will not be moving on to the face-to-face interview.

Sharita: So what are some best practices for handling the phone interview?

Stacy: First, you should use a quiet location. This is the most important consideration. If it’s quiet, then the interviewer will be able to hear you better. As a result, the conversation will be less stressful for you, since you’ll be able to focus on that instead of any surrounding noise.

Second, it’s also important to rehearse.

Sharita: Rehearse? You mean practice a phone interview?

Stacy: Yes. Just like you can practice a face-to-face interview, you should practice a phone interview. Have a friend or a colleague call you with a list of prepared questions. Practice answering those questions in the location where you plan to have your actual phone interview. Ask for the person’s feedback after it’s over. You want to make certain that you don’t talk too quickly and you don’t mumble. You also want to make sure that the other person can hear you and there isn’t too much noise.

Speaking of that, the third tip is to eliminate any and all distractions. Many of the items in this category are common sense, but I still have to mention them. That’s because someone somewhere right now is committing one of these infractions.

Don’t eat food during the phone call. Don’t play music of any kind. And do not smoke during the call, either. I know you might be nervous, but don’t try to be sneaky about smoking. The hiring manager is still probably going to realize what’s going on. People who smoke during their phone interview rarely, if ever, get invited to a face-to-face interview. Don’t have the TV on in the background and don’t be shopping in the Gap during the phone interview. I had a candidate do that once and she told the hiring manager that too, that she was shopping in the Gap during the phone interview. Don’t do that! You can shop at the Gap but not during a phone interview. You want to be 100% focused on this conversation, and you want the hiring manager to also be 100% focused on it.

If you eat food or smoke, or have the television going in the background, it’s going to send the signal that you’re not taking the phone call seriously. Of course, you can also go too far in the other direction.

Sharita: What do you mean?

Stacy: I mean that you can come across as too nervous or too uptight. That will not serve you well, either. More than likely, you will be nervous, and that’s perfectly normal. However, you also need to relax. So before the call begins, take a deep breath, count to 10, do both, whatever it takes to become more relaxed. Because if you’re not relaxed, then that will be evident during the call.

Sharita: Stacy, that reminds me: we’ve been discussing personal branding in today’s podcast. That’s also a part of the phone interview, correct?

Stacy: Yes, absolutely. It’s especially important since the hiring manager can not see you. That’s why you must be friendly, enthusiastic, and confident during the phone all. All of these attributes lend themselves to making a good impression. And a good impression is critical for proper personal branding.

In fact, remember to smile a lot while you’re speaking. Yes, it’s true that the person on the other end of the line can’t see you, but they can hear the enthusiasm and energy that your smile is creating.

Sharita: Stacy, I know that we’ve talked about the fact that candidates should ask questions during the face-to-face interview. Does that rule also go for the phone interview?

Stacy: It does! Candidates should be prepared to ask questions. In fact, there are three things they should have in front of them beforehand and during the call. Those things are a resume, a job description for the position they’re applying for, and a list of questions to ask. You can certainly ask questions during the interview, but be sure to ask the questions that are on your list before the conclusion of the call.

Sharita: Stacy, that also reminds me of the candidate who was supposed to be part of a video interview and they weren’t able to make that happen. That fits into this conversation, doesn’t it?

Stacy: Yes, a video interview is similar to a phone interview. It’s not a face-to-face interview, not in the traditional sense, but it sometimes precedes an onsite interview. In that case study, the candidate in question was not able to get access to a webcam for the interview. Not only that, but they communicated their perceived problem to the hiring manager. Of course, the hiring manager was not pleased, and as we discussed, the candidate had branded themselves as someone who was not able to solve problems. Employers want to hire problem solvers. It’s pretty much why they’re hiring in the first place. So be a problem solver.

If you’re a candidate in the hiring process of a potential employer, then you want to brand yourself the right way. That includes everything that we’ve talked about today. You also want to do everything you can to nail the phone interview and the video interview, if there is one. Remember: you can’t get a job offer unless you’re invited for a face-to-face interview.

Sharita: Thank you once again, Stacy, for all of this great information. I’m sure it’s been helpful to our listeners.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!