Hitting a Home Run with Phone Interviews

After you’ve applied for a job with a particular company and they’ve had the opportunity to sift through your qualifications and matched them with their expectations for the position, it is now time for the interview process to begin.  Generally speaking, the interviewing process goes through several phases, beginning with the phone interview.  Although these conversations can seem deceptively informal, it is important to remember that you are being evaluated by the interviewer from the time that you answer the phone (possibly even before you pick up), and that everything that you say will be counted toward whether or not you’re selected for a follow up (in person) interview.

But, you know, no pressure or anything.

Here are a few tips to help you score big on your next phone interview, so that you can make it to the next step of securing the job of your dreams:

  1. – Be Prepared

This may sound a bit silly, and maybe it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway:  this is a job interview, and you should be prepared for it the same way that you would be prepared for an in-person interview.

That means making sure that you’re up to date on company information, you’re familiar with the job description, and you can speak to how your skills and experience meet and exceed the desired qualifications outlined therein. You should also make sure that the interviewer has an up to date copy of your resume, just as you would with an in-person interviewer.

  1. – Smile!

This is one of those easy wins for phone interviews.  In a traditional interview setting, you would need to be aware of your body language, posture, etc.  In a phone interview, the interviewer can’t see you, so you don’t need to worry about all of that.  One thing an interviewer can tell via the phone, though, is whether or not you’re smiling.

Smiling while on the phone adds a friendly and affable quality to your voice, and makes it more inviting for others to talk to you.  It truly is something that you can hear through the phone, so in order to ensure that you’re making a good impression, be sure to smile through you interview, even if you’re nervous!

  1. – Don’t speak in jargon

This is a general rule for all interviews, but especially for phone interviews.  Using industry specific jargon doesn’t make you sound like an expert in a field – it makes you sound like someone who googled a bunch of words so that you could sound smart while talking to a company representative.  Avoid it as much as possible, and opt for authentic, explanatory language instead.

  1. – Be professional and gracious

Again, it is critical to remember, even though this is a less formal version of an interview, it is still in fact an interview.  Be professional in both your tone and the language that you use.  Be sure to thank the interviewer for their time, and to follow up with a thank you email or note once the interview is over.  It could mean the difference in being invited back for a second chance with an in-person interviewer.

  1. – Ask for the next step

It is appropriate (and encouraged) to ask what your expectations should be following a phone interview.  Ask about their timelines with regard to decision-making, and whether or not they need anything additional from you at this stage.  You want to be sure that you’ve supplied them with everything that they need in order to make an informed decision about who you are and how well they can expect you to fit into their team dynamic, but you also don’t want to come on too strong by overwhelming them with unsolicited artifacts.  Asking shows engagement on your behalf, and also prevents you from being too aggressive.


Making the Most of Career Fairs

If you’re in the midst of a career transition, or happen to be in the market seeking a new job, career fairs can be a great way to connect with potential employers.  When done well, career fairs are a very effective way of seeking employment opportunities, because they allow you to access a large group of companies and organizations who are looking to hire immediately (or at least in the very near future).  They are a low-pressure way for you to get in front of the people who are either making hiring decisions, or who can ensure that your resume gets to the appropriate decision-making individual.  Overall, career fairs can be an excellent investment of your time – but it is important that you approach them with care in order to avoid mistakes that could hurt your chances of success.  Here are five tips for making the most of your next career fair: 

  1. – Prioritize employers you would most like to visit

Career fairs – particularly large events – can be overwhelming.  You want to be as engaging as possible, and to give a great first impression to each person with whom you interact.  However, there may not be time to engage meaningfully with every employer there, and you don’t want to miss out on a company that you have a specific interest in working for because you “didn’t have time” to get around to their table and representative.  Even worse, you don’t want to find out after the fact that your dream company was there all along and you never even knew they were in the room.

Do some research ahead of time and create a priority list of “must visit” employers.  Most career fair sites will list the registered employers on their site for you to review, and will have maps available the day of the event.  Take a few moments to highlight for yourself where those VIP employers are located within the venue and ensure that you have enough time allotted to get to them before they become the “one that got away”.

  1. – Dress to impress

One of my favorite professors from undergrad had a signature saying that has stuck with me far better than anything that I learned from his textbook:  “Presentation is everything, and everything is presentation.”  This career fair will be your first and best opportunity to get to know a potential employer.  You want to stand out – but not because you chose to dress in casual jeans and flip-flops.

Dress professionally and neatly – act as though each interaction at this event is a mini-interview, and understand that you are being vetted for your fitness with these organizations even at this early stage.  Your hair should be neat and well-groomed, your nails should be clean and trimmed, and your dress should exude an overall impression of confidence and put-togetherness.

  1. – Make a plan (and execute it!)

As we’ve already established, career fairs are often large events with a myriad of different employers available for you to interact with.  In order to make the best of this opportunity, you should make a plan ahead of schedule and then give yourself plenty of time to execute it.  Do your research and know which employers are planning to attend.  Prepare your elevator speech and how you will approach them.  Budget a set amount of time for each interaction, giving yourself a cushion in the event that a meeting turns into a great conversation or something more. Be Prepared!

  1. – Prepare your pitch – and make it good!

The elevator pitch is one of the most important networking tools to have in your arsenal.  This is a simple, effective way to communicate to any potential employer or connection who you are and what you are about.  It should be no longer than about 30 seconds, and should let them know a little bit about who you are and why you might be a good fit for their company, organization, or project.  Don’t worry – the purpose of an elevator pitch isn’t to “close the deal” – meaning you shouldn’t worry that you’ve failed if you don’t walk away with a job offer in hand.  Rather, the purpose of the pitch is to simply spark an interest in you and your work from whomever you’re delivering it to.  Be gracious, be friendly, and be yourself.

  1. – Take notes and follow up

Here’s where you have a serious opportunity to set yourself apart from the crowd – take notes and follow up.  One of the primary reasons people who don’t find job fairs to be an effective place to seek employment feel that way is because they often fail to follow up properly once the event is over.  When someone hands you their business card or company information, jot a quick note or two on the back about your conversation with the person that will help you remember them in your follow up later (unless you’re in an environment where this is considered culturally insensitive – then you may make notes in your phone or on a separate note pad instead).  After you’ve done that, do the actual follow up.  Reach out to this contact via email of LinkedIn and thank them for the opportunity to talk.  Remind them about your conversation, noting anything that was memorable for you, and then ask for another opportunity to talk more one on one when they’re free.  It will make a difference that you took the time to reach out in a personal way, and also help them stay connected with who you are and what they can look for in you to help fulfill their current needs.

The big takeaway here is this:  If you plan well, utilize your time in the most efficient ways, and are prepared to follow up with connections that you’ve made after the event is over, you will dramatically increase your chances of finding success with a career fair.  Just a little extra attention spent on preparation may make all the difference for you and your job search!

Feel free to contact the Office of Alumni Career Management if you would like to talk to a career consultant in greater detail about how you can maximize the benefits of career fairs.

Top Three Reasons You Should Be Using Alumnifire


If you follow any of the Office of Alumni Career Management’s social media accounts, or have visited our webpage lately, you’ve probably noticed information we’ve posted about Alumnifire.

Alumnifire is the premier social networking site for graduates and current students to meet and network with one another.  It’s dynamic platform and offerings are exclusive to the Ohio State community – meaning you have exclusive access to the tools and benefits of this great tool simply by virtue of having attended this great university!

Currently there are more than 5,000 students and alumni networking and growing their professional presence through Alumnifire, and whether you are among that number or have never even heard of this tool before reading this post, we are here to give you the top three reasons you should be using Alumnifire to jumpstart your networking and career development today!


  1. – Alumnifire takes the stress out of networking

We’ve all been in a situation where we were faced with the task of “networking” and it seemed like an overwhelming thing to take on.  Whether it was just that the sheer number of people around was simply too much, or perhaps that you were intimidated because you weren’t exactly clear on how to approach someone or what to ask – sometimes networking is just plain hard.

Alumnifire takes the pressure off, though, by letting you know upfront what the people you meet are looking to offer you.  Each time a person signs up for an account, they are asked if they are interested in offering any number of helpful tools to other Buckeyes.  This may include anything from general career advice to introductions and informational interviews to relocation assistance.  This way, when you come across someone you would like to connect with, you’re immediately given information on what kinds of assistance they are open to providing for you.  This means that connection with them is easy and painless, and you don’t have to worry about stressing or “bothering” someone for a connection.  They’ve already offered their expertise and time to you – you simply need to take advantage of it!


  1. – Jobs!

Not only does Alumnifire offer a job board where members are able to create postings based on current openings that they are responsible for within their companies, it also offers you access to job postings from each company that currently employs a registered Buckeye.

Alumnifire’s dynamic technology has the ability to capture company information about where your fellow Buckeyes are currently employed, and then cross reference that with any job postings for that company from all across the internet!  This way, not only do you have access to jobs posted by those fellow alumni who are in a position to make hiring decisions – you also have access to listings made at the companies of each registered Buckeye regardless of whether or not they actually posted the listings themselves.  Pretty cool right?


  1. – FREE and EASY Career Building Tool

Hands down the best thing about Alumnifire is that you have access to all of the resources and tools provided on the site absolutely free by virtue of being an alumnus of The Ohio State.  From a huge network of fellow alums nationwide looking to provide varying levels of support in your career, to information on career paths and jobs in general, to mentoring opportunities, Alumnifire has you covered in a free and easy way.

Now that you’ve heard a little about what there is to be gained from Alumnifire, we have just one question for you:

Why haven’t you joined yet?

Sign up here to get started today!

Intro to ACM – Who We Are and What We Do!

Hey there Buckeyes!

Welcome to the Lhota Office of Alumni Career Management, a segment of Alumni Relations here at The Ohio State University.  Today we wanted to quickly introduce you to Alumni Career Management, including some of our history, services, and things that we can do to help you as you journey through the various stages of your career.

ACM was established in 2012 in honor of Bill and Susan Lhota, notable alumni and good friends of the university.  We are housed on the first floor of the Longaberger Alumni House at 2200 Olentangy River Road in Columbus, OH.  Our staff of professional career consultants are ready and available to assist all alumni of the university in various capacities related to their careers, regardless of stage.

Some of the services that we provide include:  individual, one on one coaching with a specific career consultant of your choice, group panel discussions, networking events, and web services.  Because we serve clients all throughout Buckeye Nation, it is important to us that we are able to reach you regardless of whether or not you happen to be in the Columbus area currently.

We routinely travel throughout the country several times per year to execute our staple Network Like a Pro program in every region throughout the United States, and we are available for programming in partnership with alumni clubs and societies as well.  We offer quick career advice through our “Ask a Coach” feature on the ACM website, and have a robust LinkedIn group of more than 9,000 alumni where we actively post career advice and open discussion forums for Buckeyes to interact with one another about subjects and topics that matter to them.  We also manage AlumniFire, a unique and exclusive social media mentoring network created specifically for Buckeyes to connect and forge relationships without some of the pressure of more traditional networking settings. More information about each of these services can be found on our website at http://go.osu.edu/alumnicareermanagement.

Finally, we offer individualized, one on one coaching sessions for those clients who are interested in more in depth assistance in navigating their careers.  Each alumnus is entitled to one free intake session with a consultant – this is a one hour one on one session in which we can discuss any needs that the graduate has in relation to his or her career.  This can be resume review, interview preparation, social media navigation, or simply talking about concerns with regard to his or her career in general.  After this session is over, the alum can decide whether or not he or she would like to continue seeing a consultant, or if their needs were addressed in the initial consultation.  Our “Career Advising” tab on the ACM webpage has details on the structure and fee schedule for each additional consulting package clients may choose from.  Clients should also note that these consulting options are not exclusive to face to face meetings – consultants are able to meet with non-local clients via phone or Skype when a face to face meeting is not feasible.  Alumni are encouraged to call 1-800-635-8944 for additional information or to schedule an appointment with a consultant today.