As a novice nurse practitioner, I once answered a phone interview call from my car…as it went the car wash. Bad idea. I took maximizing my lunch break one step too far. Needless to say, I wasn’t offered the position. Similarly, many nurse practitioners I talk to underestimate the importance of an initial phone interview. They approach the conversation more as an informational call rather than a crucial first step in the job interview process.
A phone interview doesn’t mean you should take the call from your kitchen table while wearing slippers and brewing a morning cup of Joe. Even taking the call in the car on the way home from the gym sets you up for failure. If you’re a job-seeking nurse practitioner, taking each and every phone interview as seriously as you would an in-person opportunity is essential to your job search success. The following tips will help get you on the track to phone interview domination.
1. Schedule your phone interview carefully
As nurse practitioners, our work days can be unpredictable. We quickly get behind in our patient care commitments pushing back lunch breaks and quit times. Or, we may not be accustomed to scheduling meetings as they are rarely required by our job responsibilities.
Your phone interview success depends on your availability to predictably answer the phone. Even if your interviewer gives a general timeframe, saying ‘I’ll give you a call tomorrow afternoon’, suggest a specific time and send out a calendar meeting request. This way you know when to expect the call and don’t find yourself in the middle of the daycare pick-up line surrounded by screaming children when the phone rings. Choose a time you know you will be available and block it in your schedule.
2. Be aware of your environment
Ideally, you will have phone interviews for your next nurse practitioner position at home in a quiet space. Make sure pets, knocks on the door, family members, or other interruptions won’t be a problem. If an unexpected interruption does present itself, briefly hit the mute button on your phone. Your interviewer will likely never know you hit the button. If you encounter a major distraction, be honest. Life happens and your interviewer has likely experienced a similar situation in the past.
Our voices reflect our body language. Sure, your interviewer won’t know if you are speaking with him or her while laying on your bed in your underwear, but your NP job interview performance will certainly suffer. Pay attention to your body language. Sit upright in a chair. Use your hands to be expressive as you would in an in-person conversation. Your voice will follow these gestures. Be upbeat and positive.
4. Have your computer handy
Focusing on the conversation at hand is important in the phone interview. But, you can take advantage of the fact that the interview is being conducted remotely. By having your computer handy during the call, you can look up any necessary information about the hospital or clinic during the call. You may also want to reference specifics of the job posting itself. Have the clinic or hospital’s website as well as the nurse practitioner job description to which you applied pulled up on your screen before the call begins.
5. Be prepared
Spend some time studying up for your phone interview. Initial phone interviews are a way for an employer to quickly screen candidates. To get past this screening process, you’ll need to impress. Prepare responses to common interview questions so you’re ready to reply. Research the hospital or clinic to which you are applying. Get familiar with the facility’s mission and culture. Finally, prepare a few questions of your own for the call.
6. Remember the reason for the call
Employers most often conduct phone interviews as a convenient way to screen candidates or to interview candidates living out of town. Phone interviews are a way for the employer to get to know you and your qualifications. Avoid discussing salary, benefits, and negotiating other logistics of the position in the phone interview. Focus on making a solid impression on the employer by discussing your qualifications. Save compensation convos for later. Your goal in the phone interview should be to reach the next step in the hiring process, an in-person interview.
Before the call ends, clarify the next steps in the nurse practitioner interview process with your interviewer. If you do not have the interviewer’s contact information, ask for it so you can follow up. Creating a lasting first impression doesn’t end when you hang up the phone.
Follow up the interview with a ‘Thank You’ email. Let the interviewer know you appreciate him or her taking the time to talk with you. Reinforce your interest in the position. Send the email an hour or two after you hang up the phone.
Above all, remember – your nurse practitioner phone interview goal is to secure an in-person interview, and ultimately land the job. The phone interview is one of your few chances to shine so make it count.
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