Spring is here and the phone is ringing! As I respond to the many phone calls I have received about studying piano, I was inspired to do a little research on how to best handle the phone interview. Even though many of my first contacts come through email, I always make a phone call before scheduling a live interview. This spring, I have had more phone calls than emails, which is an unexpected trend. I wonder if it has to do with the many fraud emails that are now out there. Be wary of any emails that ask for your bank account information to transfer funds. I delete them immediately!
At any rate, Joanne Haroutounian in her book Fourth Finger on B-Flat recommends having a fact sheet of information close to your phone that includes pertinent information that you would like to share with prospective clients about your studio. This can include your tuition rates, lesson length, philosophy, available times, and offerings beyond lessons.
In addition, create a form with a place to write the name of the person calling, contact information, age, level, other instruments studied, extracurricular activities, and if a transfer student: prior teacher, years studied, repertoire studied, and any festivals or exams completed. Joanne’s book comes with a comprehensive CD-Rom which includes a downloadable form for Telephone Talking Points that is very practical and user-friendly. Another question I always ask is, “Do you have a piano?” I require that students have an acoustic piano so this is a very important question. Remember that this is a two-way interview. Not only is the prospective student interviewing you, but you are interviewing them to see if it is the right fit for your studio.
Also, it is okay to screen your phone calls. I am fortunate right now to have a full studio with a waiting list, so I cannot always answer my phone immediately. I am most likely teaching! However, it is important to return phone calls promptly. Another reason I screen my calls is that I want control over when I speak so that I can give my undivided attention to the person calling. If I cannot respond the same day of a call, I do my best to respond within one or two days. Typically, I will call back and if I have to leave a message, I will let them know the best time to reach me. If an email has been the initial mode of contact, I will schedule a phone interview via email.
Scheduling phone interviews in advance helps to ensure that am in the right psychological frame of mind to conduct a successful discussion, one that will project a professional image. The following are simple phone etiquette tips to help in giving that very important first impression:
- Use a high quality phone.
- Shower, groom and dress professionally! You will feel better and project a more confident image.
- Stand up or at least sit up straight at a table or desk. This will make you sound more energetic.
- Smile! Believe it or not – smiling projects a positive sound image to the listener.
- Speak slowly and enunciate clearly.
- Avoid making extra noises, i.e., chewing gum, shuffling papers, etc.
- No background noises (no crying babies or barking dogs).
What is your experience with the phone interview? What are your best practices? Please share – I would love to hear additional ideas!