Friday, February 22, 2013

Tips on Telephone Job Interviews

Telephone interviews are a quick and slick way to evaluate you to rule you in or out, as a possible Candidate. Be prepared by focusing on the questions you know will help them to
evaluate you and generally try to keep your answers to two minutes or less.

One of the first questions you will probably be asked is to tell the interviewer about yourself. Normally, they do not look for your life’s history. Generally, they are getting a pulse from you of whether or not you’re worth the time for a face-to-face meeting. Do your best to address and give them a profile of yourself of what you have to offer them that will be relevant to the job at hand. This could include such things as projects that may have helped you prepare for this job or skill sets you may have that would be a good fit with them.  Also you might address your problem-solving skills to identify, prevent or find solutions for issues that may come up. Then be prepared to give an example of how you have dealt with this in the past.

Know as much as you can about the job description and the company. Be prepared for questions about your strengths and weaknesses. For your strengths, you should generally pull from the job description as much as possible and direct your answers towards your skill sets that would apply to the position. This is where it pays to review your resume beforehand and know your strengths at a glance well. Also keep your resume in front of you with the job description for easy reference, along with a pen and paper to jot down any notes or any questions you may have.

As for weaknesses, always try to remember to use something somewhat benign. Perhaps you could say something about it is a challenge staying current with ever-changing technology but this is how you have attempted to solve it, by keeping pace with an online class, etc., in your spare time.

Try to not commit if you are asked about the salary range you are looking for. It is prudent to say you would need to know more of what the position entails, benefits offered, etc. Be as vague as possible. You may also ask them what they are prepared to pay, if the subject should come up?  If pressed for an answer, say you cannot be sure but can give them a general range of your salary history, both past and present.

The following are some important points for what NOT to do for an effective and successful phone interview:

Try not to conduct an interview on a cell phone unless you can stake your life on it not dropping calls. As we all know, sometimes cell phones are not always predictable.  Try to use a land-line, if at all possible.
Do not conduct an interview while driving or riding in a vehicle or walking. Not only is it unprofessional, but it can be dangerous.
Do not conduct an interview in a public place.
Do not have noise or music in the background. Find a quiet place in your home and shut the door. You do not want to be interrupted. This can break your focus.
Do not conduct an interview in your office unless you can speak freely.

Research the company. You might even want to have your browser open to the company’s website during your interview in case any questions may arise that you need an answer for.
Have a few good questions ready to ask, including one at the end of the conversation about when you might be able to meet face-to-face with them?
Try to exude enthusiasm in your voice. It actually helps if you make a point to smile while you are speaking. It may sound a little strange, but a smile will actually convey through the phone. Confident body language will as well. Keep in mind, even standing up during the conversation may help you feel more in control.
Turn off call waiting. Again, you don‘t want to lose your focus.
Have a glass of water nearby in case. Think Murphy’s law; just when you don’t want to have a dry throat or coughing jag, you will.
Listen carefully and do not hesitate to ask them to clarify a question. This can give you a few seconds to collect your thoughts.
Ask the interviewer for their email address so you can write them an email after your phone interview. In this way, you can restate your specific skills sets that qualify you for the position.

Following these few simple rules will hopefully help you to ace the phone interview. A great phone interview is the best way to get to the next step; the face-to-face interview and your ultimate hire. Being prepared in this way will help you to make a positive quick and slick impression.      

Cathy L. Sage is President of Robert Sage Careers, LLC; an Executive Search Firm and Job Board Publisher who specializes in the Factory-Built Structures Industries. Cathy can be reached at or 727/504-5350. For more information about the company and to visit the job board, access                                                                                                                                                       

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