The Truth on Landing First Round Interviews – by Theo Pesiridis
Step 1: Securing a preliminary phone call.
As a CSC, I often get asked, “I have applied to numerous online applications and I have not heard back from a single one. What am I doing wrong?”. The answer to this question is simple: you have not spoken with enough employees over the phone or made a personal connection with the firm. Think about the following case: another candidate has reached out to three employees at the firm, connected with them personally, and told their story. On the other hand, you have simply dropped your application in an online portal and have not spoken personally with any employees at the firm. As an employee, which candidate would you likely pick for a first round interview, the candidate who you have already spoken with or a candidate which you have not heard from and don’t know anything about?
This is a common scenario for employees and recruiters. There is a strong chance that at least one of the candidates you are competing against has already spoken with employees at the firm either in person, over email, or on the phone. Therefore, you are starting at a disadvantage if you have not made preliminary phone calls. They are the key to securing referrals and first round interviews. If you truly want a first round interview at a certain company, you have to reach out to connections, alumni, or other employees until someone is available to chat. When someone has responded, you have completed the first step in the interview process. You have secured an opportunity to tell your story.
Step 2: Crafting a refined story and genuine interest.
Once you have secured a phone call with an employee at the firm, you need to prepare the most important aspect of the phone call: your story. Employees across every industry all look for a single detail in each candidate’s story: a genuine interest in the job. An experienced employee can easily differentiate between candidates who simply want a job and candidates who have a genuine interest in the career. While much of the candidate’s interest will be reflected in their background and experience, including their club involvements and internships, personal reasons for interest can also hold great value. Perhaps a personal passion, family experience, or genuine curiosity drive your interest in the position. Having a personal connection or passion will differentiate you from other candidates and give you the greatest chance at securing a first round interview.
Step 3: Ensuring you receive a referral.
The final step is to follow up after the phone call. Send the personalized thank you and try to connect and speak with other employees at the firm. You can ask politely at the end of your phone call for suggestions or direct connections to other employees to learn more about the firm. The more employees you speak with, the better your chance of receiving a referral. Once you receive the referral, you have done your part in attempting to secure a first round interview.