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The Lost Art of the Telephone Call

(c) 2018 The Interview Coach

Should you ring the contact person in the job ad? YES!

I remember when I sent my very first text. It was sometime after the turn of the last century. I had just started a new job, and I had to admit to my new (and much younger) boss that I had never sent a text before. Two decades before that I worked at a major Telco, and the management doubted that we would every need internet access to perform our jobs.

Fast forward to 2018…and the phone barely rings. Most of my friends disconnected their land lines years ago. I visit different workplaces nearly every week. I observe folks sitting behind a desk with multiple computer screens, wearing noise cancelling headphones to keep things quiet in their switched-on bubble. At home, If I’m upstairs and I fancy a cup of tea, I send a text to a family member in the kitchen. If I choose a cute emoji, I often get my wish.

As long as an interview remains a face to face conversation, learning to connect with people will remain vital. The good news is, so few people are doing it, you can use it to your great advantage.

Most job ads will list a contact person and their telephone number. As a job hunter, you might assume those poor folks are swamped with phone calls. Truth is, often very few applicants take the time or get up the courage to ring. And the ones that do ring? They are remembered at the interview.

By ringing and having a brief chat with the contact person, you go from being a name on a page to flesh and blood person, someone they can begin to imagine working with. Demonstrating interest in the organisation, curiosity about the role, and showing genuine enthusiasm in your voice can help move your application to the shortlist for interview. And when you get to the interview, they feel like they already know you.

So why don’t most people ring the contact person? My guess is, they fear they’ll blow their chance. That is a risk. So, just like preparing for the interview, prepare for the phone call.

You will certainly turn someone off if you waste their time. Before you ring, do some careful research about the role and the organisation. Be prepared to succinctly communicate your fit for the job. And most importantly, have some good questions to ask. And smile! It really does come across on the phone.

Good questions show that you have considered the role and are already actively thinking about strategies for success. For example, let’s say the company you are applying to has had a recent merger, and you are applying for a role as customer service manager. You might say that you want to assure your application addresses their projected needs beyond those listed in the job ad. You could ask the contact person what they see as they key milestones in the first year for success. Whatever you ask, you must really want to know the answer, so give it some thought. Never ask anything you could have googled the answer to!

With any luck, the contact person will be genuinely interested to hear from a keen prospective candidate and will have questions for you. Be ready to tell them about your suitability for the role. It’s your chance to have chat off the interview script, so think carefully about how you want to communicate your point of difference as a candidate.

With a bit of preparation, a 5-minute conversation can propel you up a list of prospective candidates. Give it a try!

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