The Telephone Interview
Going for a hospitality job? how to really clean up during the phone interview
When applying for foodservice, hotel or resort jobs, you'd probably expect to be called for an in-person interview. But employers in the hospitality industry are overloaded and may not have the time or staff to physically interview every applicant. What do they do? They conduct phone interviews to narrow the field and choose the best applicants for a 'face-to-face'. Be impressive over the phone and you'll increase your chances of getting your foot in the door for that hotel, restaurant or foodservice interview.
Are you talkin' to me?
Some do not realize the impression they make over the phone. Worse yet, some don't see the need to 'bother' to impress the interviewer during this crucial step. If someone handed you food on a dirty plate, would you want to eat it? Prospective hospitality employers want to hire food service, hotel and resort applicants who have taken time to 'wash their plate', people who care about and understand the importance of the phone interview and it's relation to that coveted foodservice, hotel or resort job.
Since you may not know when you'll be called, it helps to prepare ahead of time to avoid being taken by surprise. Answering the phone with a mouth full of food or in the middle of screaming at your children is definitely not impressive. Think about your habits and make the necessary modifications.
Quiet on the set!
Prepare for your phone interview as if you were sitting in the hotel or restaurant with your interviewer. Here are 4 great ways to prepare:
- Speak to your family ahead of time and get their cooperation, so you will have silence during the phone call. No radios, TVs, or crying babies, please!
- Write down answers to questions you know you'll be asked, such as your strengths and weaknesses. This will help you be prepared so you don't get flustered, and project an air of confidence about your abilities. Do you enjoy helping people but hate paperwork? Maybe you prefer being behind the scenes with less direct 'people' contact. Or, perhaps you enjoy being in charge and know how to rally others to get things done. Think about what is true for you, and make an honest list to share if asked.
- Keep a copy of your resume with your answers to refer to your background, skills and dates. Along with this, keep a pad of paper and a pen that works. Interviewers don't have time to 'hold on' while you search for something to write with.
- If the interviewer calls at an inconvenient time, politely ask if you might call them back. Make sure you call back when you say you will.
Hugh Anderson, president of Hugh Anderson Associates Inc., a career-transition consulting firm, explains, "Employers hire people for what they can do for them. The recruiter's mission is to screen candidates and recommend those who will best meet the employer's needs. Your goal is to be recommended for further consideration. When describing your background, reinforce the positive and avoid the negative. Stay focused by reviewing and use the key points you wrote down about your strengths."
Your first impression could be your last
Have you ever heard your recorded voice? You probably thought it didn't sound much like you. But it is what you sound like to others! Be careful to avoid too many 'word whiskers', those "ums", "okays" and "likes" we all say too much. Also be careful not to say "huh?" or "what?" when "excuse me?" or "I'm sorry, can you repeat that?" sounds so much nicer.
When you are face-to-face with your interviewer, you are naturally more conscious of your habits. You remember to sit up straight, to smile, to speak clearly, to listen. On the phone, we tend to forget these good practices. We slouch in a chair, slur our words, chew gum, speak too quickly and interrupt. It is vitally important to 'pull yourself together' and treat the phone interview like any other. Smile! Relax! Breathe! Take your time to listen to the interviewer and respond thoughtfully. Hold off on drinking or eating while talking, but keep water nearby in case you suddenly develop a dry mouth. And don't forget common etiquette, like 'thank you', 'please' and 'you're welcome'.
Remember also to use the interviewer's name. When the phone rings, listen for their introduction. If you do not understand their name, ask them to spell it, then repeat it so you can use it correctly during the call. People love to hear their name and it shows you are paying attention to the interview and to the recruiter as an individual.
Above all else, remember what you are there for....to set up a face-to-face interview. Remembering these simple, polite phone interviewing techniques will get you there. Good luck!