Sunday, May 18, 2014

How to handle a telephone interview

Many things have changed about interviewing in the last few years, but nothing more then the use of a screening telephone interview. It saves time, money and office space. For anyone looking for a job today, one out of every 6 interviews will begin with a telephone screening.

A phone interview sounds like a dream way to get a job, doesn't it? You don't have to get dressed in your best interview attire, travel to a company's office, or interview one-on-one with a hiring manager. Instead, you're interviewing on the phone from the comfort of home and can even be in your PJs while you do it.

Don’t be fooled, it's not as easy as it seems. You can blow a telephone interview just as easily as you can blow an in-person interview, in fact, it much easier to do. Dropped calls, phone batteries not charged, background noise, not having anything to write with; not knowing about the company, and especially not being prepared to respond to interview questions can knock you out of contention for a job because they have nothing to base their first impression of you on except a voice over the phone.

Review these tips for how to conduct a phone interview and what not to do when you're interviewing via the telephone to make sure your phone interviews get you to the next step in the hiring process.

Phone Interview Do's and Don'ts

Create a checklist. Review the job posting and make a list of how your qualifications match the hiring criteria. Have the list available so you can glance at it during the interview. Also have a copy of your resume in clear view, so you don't have to remember what you did when.

Research the job and the company. Take some time to research the job and the company. The more prepared you are for the interview, the smoother it will go.
Prepare for phone interview questions. Review answers to typical phone interview questions and think about how you're going to respond. Below are some various types of questions to review and begin thinking of your answers ahead of time.

Phone interview questions (many are going over your resume so have it handy)

• What is the name of your company, your job title and job description? What are your dates of employment?
• What were your starting and final levels of compensation?
• What were your responsibilities?
• What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them? Why are you leaving your job?
• What are your salary expectations?
• What interests you about this job?
• Why do you want this job?
• What applicable attributes / experience do you have?
• What can you do for this company?
• What do you know about this company?
• Why do you want to work here?
• What challenges are you looking for in a position?
• What can you contribute to this company?
• Is there anything I haven't told you about the job or company that you would like to know?
• What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you?
• What is your greatest weakness?
• What is your greatest strength?
• Describe a typical work week.
• How would you describe the pace at which you work?
• How do you handle stress and pressure?
• What motivates you?
• Tell me about yourself?

When you are invited for a phone interview, in addition to reviewing the typical phone interview questions you'll be asked, it's important to have a list of questions ready to ask the interviewer.

Phone Interview Questions to Ask:

• How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?
• What qualities are you looking for in the person you hire to join this company?
• If I was hired, how would I be interacting with you and your department, what would be your expectations, and your measures for success?
• How would I get feedback about how well my work meets the expectations?
• What do you view as the most challenging part of this job?
• Why is the last person who held this position leaving?
• Who does this position report to?
• How would you describe the company culture?
• What is the typical work week? Is overtime expected? How about travel?
• What are the opportunities for advancement with the company?
• Is there anything else can I tell you about my qualifications?
• Could I schedule an in-person interview at your convenience?
• How soon would you like someone to begin the position?
• When can I expect to hear from you?
• Are there any other questions I can answer for you?

Keys to a successful phone interview:

Use a land line. Unless your cell phone service is 100% all the time, use a land line instead of a cell phone. That way you won't have to worry about dropped calls and getting disconnected.

Turn off call waiting. If you have call waiting turn it off. The beep of an incoming call is distracting and can make you lose your focus.

Get rid of the distractions. Interview in a private space with no intercoms, musak or the positional to be interrupted; that means securing a babysitter if you have small children at home and kicking the dog, the cat, and the rest of the household members out of your interview space or coworkers, bosses and friends out of a conference room for phone closet.

Have a glass of water nearby. There isn't much worse than having a tickle in your throat or a cough starting when you need to talk on the phone. Have a glass of water handy so you can take a quick sip if your mouth gets dry or there's a catch in your throat.

Have 2 pens and paper to take notes. Pen one will always die on you and it's hard to remember what you discussed after the fact, so take brief notes during the interview.

I hope this information helps and that you will get an in person interview out of it. That is you goal!

Brian Steffan