How Do I Handle a Phone Interview with a Group?


I've been invited for a phone interview with a search committee: there will be five people on the call. Any tips on how to prepare?

P. L.

Ask for a list of all who are attending.

Show you are present: If there's a staff list with pictures print it out or pull it up online. Let people know you are looking at it as you talk. This may help you break the ice, and it will give you a chance to see how members of the committee act as a group:

Do they talk about their pictures and how they look different? Do they tease each other?

Is there silence?

Customize your questions:

Prepare a question for each person on the interview.

If you want the job, follow up with individual participants.

Follow up quickly with a custom thank you email to each participant. If you have information on their job titles, include a sentence or two that shows you are thinking about how you would interact with them on the job. This is a great opportunity to revisit any particular topics you may not have nailed in the interview -- example: You asked my opinion about X; here's a more complete answer to your question.

If you don't have email addresses for each participant, Google * -- this will show you how companies assign email addresses -- you can figure it out from there.

Don't forget the blind spot -- i.e. interviews are always a two way street: The employer picks the candidate, and the candidate gets to decide whether or not they want to work for the employer. You may be so focused on answering their questions that you don't take time to assess whether or not the job is a fit. If you receive an offer -- and still haven't figured out whether the job is a fit or met all the players in person, ask if you can meet again before you get started.

Good luck!

Is it Better to Have Many Friends or a Few Good Ones?

My friend Jim and I are having an argument over networking? Jim says it's better to be an open networker on LinkedIn; I say it's better to follow LinkedIn's suggestion -- and only connect with people I know well. Which is the better strategy?

- K.L.

There's no right answer. It's up to your own level of comfort, and depends on what purpose you'd like to use your network for.

That said, my personal preference is to only connect with people who know you well. Why? If you get a job lead through a networking contact -- and they don't know you well...they cannot vouch for you.

It's not who you know that matters -- it is whether or not they are willing to speak up for you.

In my opinion, that's what matters most. "I recommend you for any job that you are qualified for," is a pretty weak reference. So Is "I don't know her."



Ever applied for a job and never heard back?

Worked in a job that feels like writing in your non-dominant hand?

Do you keep adding information to the resume you started in college?

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Best Fit Forward is a boutique provider of private career management and consulting services.

We research hiring trends. We interview recruiters on how they hire. We share our knowledge.

Ever notice how the hardest person to describe is yourself -- even if you're confident you can do a great job?

We help you push through the awkward phase of finding the right words. We like to say we help our clients find a voice that tells the story of their careers -- so that they can get heard.

Our goal is to help you identify your ideal job -- and what makes you uniquely qualified to do it. 

We help you craft a message that shows your unique value -- and show how that aligns with the needs of your next employer. After all, landing a job is always a dance between what you offer -- and what the employer needs. Part of this dance is deciding what to share and what not to share.

We can help you build your reputation -- on and offline -- without compromising personal privacy. 

Ask us how we've helped our clients land unadvertised opportunities at career fairs, get promoted, and turn rejection into a job offer.

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Are Cover Letters Really Necessary?

Are cover letters worth writing?

One person says no one reads them. Another says the letter is more important than the resume.

- JD

Sometimes looking for jobs is a lot like dating:

Say you have two dates with two different people, both of whom know your food preferences:

Date person #1 remembers that you are a vegetarian, checks out the Zagat rating and books a table at Paul McCartney's favorite vegetarian restaurant.

Date person #2 takes you to a steak house, when you say you don't eat meat -- tells you there's a lot on the salad bar.

Which date are you more inclined to prefer? The one who has taken the time to listen and consider your needs, or the one who's asked you to be flexible.

Cover letters are an opportunity for you to show the kind of date you are:

A good letter shows you've taken the time to think through the job -- and how your skills line up. It shows how interested you are, that you've taken the time to familiarize yourself with the role.

Like dating, there's no guarantee your potential employer will take the time to carefully assess your interest. There's no guarantee you'll get a call back.

But the more effort you put forward, the more likely it is -- at some point in the process -- that you will have your interest reciprocated. And a cover letter shows that you can be a good date.

Your thoughts?