A Balancing Act: Working the Phones

Hiring managers handle hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of job search requests per day. It is imperative for the smart job hunter to find a way to stand out from the crowd.  The first impression that a potential employer forms of a job seeker is usually based on viewing a resume. If the employer likes your resume, you will hopefully get a phone call.

A hiring manager will most likely call you to first discuss more information about the job with you. He or she will probably not offer you an interview right away. The purpose of this phone call is to evaluate you to see if you sound like someone they want to bring in to their office. If you pass this test, then you may very well receive an invitation for an interview at the end of the call. It is critical that you are able to make a good impression on the phone. If you don’t, there is little chance that you will be called in to an interview.

Many times, excellent people do not get seen simply because they do not sound friendly, professional, or excited on the phone. Most of the time, they are completely unaware of this shortcoming.

How do you improve your phone manner?

Work on the following areas and improve your chances of getting into the hiring office.

  • Tone of Voice
  • Think bright tones! No one likes to hear voices that sound monotone, bored, or despondent. If you are nervous, use that energy to sound excited about the job. However, try not to sound like a cheerleader at a pep rally. Too bubbly is not the way to go either.
  • Volume
  • Do NOT speak too loudly. This can be the last thing a stressed out and overworked hiring manager wants to hear. Also, don’t speak so softly that you keep getting asked to speak up.
  • Clarity of Speech
  • Mumbling is a big no-no. Pronounce consonants and vowels clearly, and don’t run words together. Don’t overdo this though. Speak intelligibly, but try to sound relaxed and natural.
  • Sharing the Conversation
  • Do not keep interrupting the employer. This may seem obvious, yet many hiring managers frequently complain of this. Many people do this without even realizing it. Remember to wait for the other person to say their piece, and then respond. Many times job seekers, eager to sell themselves, try to cram as much information into a phone conversation as possible. In doing this, they try to dominate the conversation, and the employer can’t get a word in edgewise. This is almost always perceived on the other end of the phone as overly aggressive and rude. On the other hand, make sure to respond promptly to questions. Avoid long, awkward pauses.
  • Pace
  • Do not talk too fast. Again, you can’t fit in all of your accomplishments in a few minutes, so don’t try. Talking too fast can make it difficult for the other person to understand what you are saying. And of course, don’t talk too slowly. If you speak too slowly, the hiring manager may get impatient or think that you are not a timely, motivated worker.

Work on all of these, and remember that moderation is the key. You need to sound bright and interested, but not too bright and overly eager. You must speak clearly, but avoid sounding forced and artificial. It is a balancing act that you must master in order to get to the next step in your job search.




WAI Staff

Whitman Associates is a professional staffing agency serving businesses and job seekers in the Washington, D.C. area. Since 1972, we’ve been dedicated to matching highly qualified candidates with a wide variety of temporary, temp-to-hire and permanent positions. We prioritize the needs of both our clients and candidates to ensure successful, lasting relationships.