What Happens When They Call You For A Telephone interview?

Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Best Seller
35 Years in
Career Management

A telephone interview is a recruiter’s time-saver, just long enough time to rule you in or out, so the focus is on a handful of questions that help evaluate you quickly. For you it’s a hurdle that must be cleared to reach a face-to-face meeting, so your answers need to be considered. As a rule of thumb, keep your answers to less than two minutes, if an interviewer wants to know more s/he will ask. Here are half a dozen questions, you’ll often need to ace when turning ‘phoners into a real interviews.

Tell me a little about yourself,” is often the first question. Interviewers don’t want your life story; they want to know if meeting you would be a good use of their time. Answer with a brief work history showing how each course, project and work experience helped prepare you to enter the professional world and why these experiences and your passion make this job and this profession a good fit for you.
“What experience do you have in…?” Make  discussion of your experience relevant to this job, and the specific skills you bring to executing it well. At its core, everything you do professionally is concerned with the identification, prevention and solution of problems within your area of responsibility. With some intelligent networking and research your answers can show that while you might not have a lot of practical experience, you do understand and relish the particular type of challenges this job  presents.
What are your strengths?” Slant your answer toward the specific skill requirements of the job, your problem prevention and solution headset, and your possession of the transferable skills such as the Multi-tasking, Problem Solving and Communication skills (see any Knock emDead book to understand more about transferable skills and professional values) that underlie success in every job.
What are your weaknesses?” You can answer without ruining your chances. Say honestly, that your greatest weakness is lack of experience and follow this with showing an understanding of the challenges that lie at the heart of this job. If you are pushed further,
You can say that staying current with new technologies, because it’s a challenge everyone faces. Then you give an example(s) of how you have made time to develop skills with an in-demand new technology or skill.
“How much do you want?” If the interviewer asks about money, say that at this point you don’t know enough about the company or the job to answer accurately, “I have no real understanding of the job, your company or the different benefits that could come from joining your team, so obviously my discussion of salary without this knowledge can’t be entirely accurate. However, after analysis of employment sites, salary calculators and talking with colleagues, I would be looking at something in the range of $XX, 000-$YYY, 000.”
The telephone interview comes to an end when you are asked whether you have any questions. If you have not already been invited to meet the interviewer, now is the time to take the initiative, be enthusiastic about the job and show real knowledge of the employer and finish with, “The most pressing question I have right now, is when can we meet?”
In closing your conversation, take care to ascertain the correct spelling and pronunciation of the interviewer’s name, for your follow-up email.

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Martin Yate
Copyright 2013
All rights reserved


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