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Phone Interview Tips and Techniques
Congratulations on being selected for a phone screen with my client.
First thing we need to warn you about is this…..MOST CANDIDATES TAKE THIS INTERVIEW FOR GRANTED!
“IT’S JUST A PHONE SCREEN, I’LL CARE WHEN I GET THE FACE-TO-FACE INTERVIEW!”
If you are interviewing for a contract opportunity, our client may be able to hire you after a phone screen!
Also, there is no way to get the job if you fail the first step!
WestBurchell put this phone interview tips and techniques sheet together to help our candidates prepare for the phone screen. Our experience shows that candidates that follow these techniques greatly increase their chances of getting the opportunity.
WHAT YOU NEED:
A solid phone connection.
- We can’t tell you how many people have lost a job because the client couldn’t hear the candidate. Make sure you are either calling from, or receiving the call from an area with solid reception.
- Best bet is to always try to use a landline.
Give yourself more than enough time to complete the phone screen.
- Phone screens typically last 15 to 30 minutes. Try to give yourself 40 minutes. We know this is easier said than done, especially if you are currently working.
- If for any reason the interview goes too long or an emergency causes you to have to call the interviewer back, PLEASE make sure to schedule a proper time. This is important and shows professionalism.
Have a Notepad and Pen at the ready.
- Most phone interviews ask technical questions and it is always easier to remember answers when you can write the question down and work out the problem on paper.
- Taking notes is also a good idea.
Do some homework, Basic client information.
- Make sure your recruiter sends you information about the client.
- Also do your homework. There is nothing worst of being asked, “what do you know about us?” and answering “not much.” This shows a complete lack of interest on your behalf. So do your homework.
- Check out the client on LinkedIn.
- Make sure you have his name and try to go see if you can find him or her on LinkedIn.
- What if you have a mutual friend?
Have the job description in front of you!
- This way you will have a better feel for the types of questions.
- It will also help if a point arises where you can sell your skills.
- “I noticed on the job description that you were looking for someone with ABC. I have 3 years experience with ABC. I used ABC with the following company’s…..”
Be prepared to speak slowly and clearly.
- This is always true for everyone but especially true with anyone where English is a second language
- ONE OF THE MAJOR REASON’S CANDIDATES ARE REJECTED IS BECAUSE OF POOR COMMUNICATION SKILLS. It is our experience that when people speak slowly they are much easier to understand.
Phone interviews are typically conducted just like in-person interviews. Hiring managers and recruiters use them as a tool for screening candidates for employment.
One major difference is they obviously tend to be shorter and tend to focus on quick technical questions.
These are intended to test your overall knowledge in your skill set. So please be prepared. We know this is easier said than done and sometimes we take for granted our knowledge about a subject, having worked with something for so long.
Let’s say you are a .Net Developer and the interviewer asks you…..
What’s the difference between Left, Right, Outer and Inner Joins?
This is something you might do every day, but it may be difficult to explain. Take your pad and pen and build a scenario for the interviewer that let’s you build the tables and explain them easier.
It’s important to take time to review the typical phone interview questions you’ll be asked and to prepare answers. In addition, plan on being prepared for a phone conversation about your background and skills.
Phone Interview Questions About Your Background
- Name of company, job title and job description, dates of employment.
- Interviewers expect you to know your resume. They will expect you to know your work history.
- Also be prepared to know why you left every position
What were your responsibilities at these positions?
- Be specific and positive about what you have accomplished.
- Always remember to be honest!
What major challenges and problems did you face? How did you handle them?
- Here, we are setting up differentiators between you and the other candidates.
- EXAMPLE: When the software development of our new product stalled, I coordinated the team that managed to get the schedule back on track. We were able to successfully troubleshoot the issues and solve the problems, within a very short period of time.
Why are you leaving your job? Or why did you leave your job?
- Regardless about why you left, don’t speak badly about your past employer.
- If it was a negative experience, use words like challenging and difficult to explain a very tough situation.
What are your salary expectations?
- Please make sure you and our recruiter are on the same sheet of music when it comes to your conversation.
- It is very difficult for WestBurchell to ask for more money once you have told them your expectations.
Phone Interview Questions About the New Job and the Company
What interests you about this job?
- The best way to respond is to describe the qualifications listed in the job posting, then connect them to your skills and experience. That way, the employer will see that you know about the job you’re interviewing for (not everyone does) and that you have the qualifications necessary to do the job.
- An example would be if you were interviewing for a Programmer / Analyst position. In that case, you would mention your interest in learning and excelling at new technologies, your experience in programming new applications, and your interest in and your ability to problem solve.
What applicable attributes / experience do you have?
- When you are asked questions related to the experience that qualifies you for the job, it’s important to be very specific about your skills and experience.
- The best way to respond is to describe your responsibilities in detail and to connect them to the job you are interviewing for. Tie your responsibilities in with those listed in the job description for the new position. That way, the employer will see that you have the qualifications necessary to do the job. Focus most on your responsibilities that are directly related to the new job’s requirements.
- It’s also important to be honest and accurate. Don’t embellish your job, because you don’t know who the hiring manager will be checking with when they check your references.
What do you know about this company?
- Prepare in advance, and in a word, research, so, you can provide relevant and current information about your prospective employer to the interviewer. Start by researching the company online. Review the “About Us” section of the company web site. Google the company, read blogs that mention it, and check Discussion Boards and social networking sites.
Why do you want to work here?
- This company is internationally known for its (widgets), and my experience in the (marketing/planning/production/etc.) of (widgets) has me intrigued by the opportunity this position presents.
- The businesses in this area are known for their commitment to the community, and I would like the opportunity to participate in making this a better place to live.
Phone Interview Questions About You
- What are you looking for in your next job? What is important to you?
- Work – Life – Balance is important, let them know that.
- Try this; what is the typical career path at the company?
What is your greatest weakness?
- Honesty works here. We know that it is easy to try this approach…I work too hard, but we prefer honesty.
If organization is a problem, tell them that and what you are doing to work on this weakness.
What is your greatest strength?
- Same as above, but describe how you built this strength.
Tell me about yourself.
- Most common question asked in any interview.
- Be prepared, be specific, and tell them what differentiates you from other candidates.
- “I’m a seasoned Manager strong in developing programs and techniques that have resulted in revenue savings of over $2.3Million for (employer’s name) during the past 11 years.”
Finally the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions.
Here is the final question you need to ask:
Is there anything missing from my background that would keep me from being a fit for this position?
We call this the CLOSE! This is your chance to overcome their objections, if they have any!
For example: if the interviewer says, I am concerned about your lack of experience with ABC, state, “I understand your concern, but I do have extensive experience with XYZ, which is very similar in many aspects as ABC, and I truly believe the learning curve will be minimal.”
But what if they say they have no concerns?
Then say, “What’s the next step?”
Download the Document above or continue to read below.
Congratulations on your face-to-face interview!
This is a big deal! Our client has stated to you, “We like your background!” Now they are interested in taking this courtship to the next step.
Jamie Burchell has 20 years of experience within the Staffing and Recruiting Industry. TRUST US, WE ARE EXPERTS! You have chosen to work with us because of this fact. Now, it’s time that you trust the EXPERTS!
READ THIS DOCUMENT THOROUGHLY!
There are many people that go into an interview unprepared! Don’t be that person! Follow our simple advice and you will get this job!
Not to sound like an infomercial, but we have calculated the numbers. Candidates that follow and embody these tips and techniques have over an 80% success rate when it comes to acquiring a job. This means that candidates that don’t integrate these steps into their interview have a 20% chance of getting the job!
Once again, congratulations on getting this far in the process!
According to Forbes Magazine, the only three true job interview questions are:
- Can you do the job?
- Will you love the job?
- Can we tolerate working with you?
That’s it. Those three. Think back, every question you’ve ever posed to others or had asked of you in a job interview is a subset of a deeper, in-depth follow-up to one of these three key questions. Each question potentially may be asked using different words, but every question, no matter how it is phrased, is just a variation of one of these topics: Strength, Motivation, and Fit.
Question 1: Can You Do the Job? – Strengths
A job is not just about the technical skills, but also about leadership and interpersonal strengths. Technical skills help you climb the ladder. As work your way up the ladder, managing up, down and across the company become more important.
You can’t tell by looking at a piece of paper what some of the strengths and weaknesses really are…
You will be asked for specific examples of not only what you have done that has been successful, but what you’ve done that hasn’t gone according to plan or a task you may have failed at and how you learned from that experience, or what you’d do differently in a new scenario.
Question 2: Will You Love the Job? –Motivation
Most employees do not wish to get paid merely for working hard—just the reverse: they will work hard because they enjoy their environment and the challenges associated with their work….
Executives who embrace this new management style are attracting and retaining better employees.
Question 3: Can We Tolerate Working With You? – Fit
A lot of it is cultural fit and whether you are going to fit well into the organization…
The perception is that when (senior leaders) come into the firm, a completely new environment, they know everything. And they could do little things such as send emails in a voicemail culture that tend to negatively snowball over time.
It is vitally important that you show that you can ADAPT to their environment!
Preparing for the Interview:
Make sure that you are clear on what strengths, motivational and fit insights you’re looking for before you go into your interviews.
Think of the Interview process as a chance for you to show your ability to solve the organization and interviewer’s problem.
This is key! I can’t tell you how many people go into an interview with the attitude, “WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR ME!” If you go into the interview with the attitude of SHOWING them how you can solve their problem, the company will almost always show you what they bring to the table for your career!
Here is a List of 10 Mistakes that Candidates Make During an Interview:
- Erase these mistakes and you will have a great interview!
- You arrive late to the interview and are poorly dressed.
What it means: “I really don’t care about getting this position.”
It is always recommended to arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time to give you time to collect your thoughts, review your notes and make a good first impression.
We understand that wearing a suit might not be the easiest thing to do, especially if your current job’s uniform is business casual. If you were to show up in a suit at work, EVERYONE will know something is up! A simple way to solve this for:
MEN… keep a tie in your jacket or pocket and put it on before your interview. WOMEN… a scarf can go a long way! I know it sounds cheesy, but it works!
2. You’re rude to the receptionist.
What it means: “I’m difficult to work with…you’re a snob that thinks people are beneath you.”
Receptionists are the gatekeepers to a workplace, and it’s their job to be the eyes and ears of the company. Also it’s important to note that if you are hired you may need their help with something one day.
3. You answer questions with trite or cliché responses.
What it means: “I’m just one of the crowd.”
Telling the interviewer you are a perfectionist and expect too much of yourself is sure to elicit a yawn. These standard/canned answers are so over-used. Be original and actually try to think about an answer that is personal to you. Prepare potential responses ahead of time to avoid relying on the usual interview cliché answers.
Don’t try so hard to find some cute way of saying something. Just be honest about yourself, direct answers with merit are always the best choice.
4. You don’t ask questions.
What it means: “I’m not that interested in your company or this job.”
The interview should be a two-way conversation to determine if you are the right fit for the company, and if the company is the right fit for you. Use the interview to gather as much information about your potential new position as possible, but don’t dominate the conversation. You need to give the interviewer time to get to know you too.
5. You answer the benchmark “Tell us about yourself” question with “What would you like to know?”
What it means: “I have nothing special to offer this company.”
This is your opportunity to steer the conversation into areas where you truly shine. Don’t waste this chance by appearing to lack any outstanding qualities you want to share. And please don’t start with where you were born. Focus on your career unless your birthplace is relevant to the job. It is EXTREMELY rare that an interviewer will ask you this question and expect a personal life story. CATCH YOUR INTERVIEWER BY SURPRISE. They want to know the relevant details of your experience or life that will actually benefit the job/company where you are interviewing.
6. You use inappropriate language.
What it means: “I’m unprofessional and if it shows in the short span of an interview, imagine what I’ll be like in the office.”
It will shock you how many people have sworn during an interview. Even if the dialect is only mild and you, the interviewee, are using somewhat acceptable words, there still is no place for foul in the interview. Adhering to proper grammar (no slang) and definitely NEVER use offensive language at any time during the interview.
7. You bad-mouth your former boss or company.
What it means: “I have no discretion…I’ll blab any inside information.”
Even if you left your prior job on poor terms, you need to put this relationship in a positive light for the interview. Even if your old boss really was to blame…you don’t want to say that in your interview. Never bring negativity into the interview; keep it positive and upbeat.
8. You ask the interviewer not to contact your former employer.
What it means: “I have something to hide.”
Even if you do not get along with your boss, you can always name someone else in the organization as a reference.
If you are interviewing confidentially, let the interviewer know that this is a confidential search!
9. You exaggerate your accomplishments or credentials.
What it means: “I need to lie to make myself look good.”
A skilled interviewer can easily identify fabrications in your background or experience. State your qualifications with confidence. Be proud of what you can do and how well you can do it. You don’t have to be Superman to get hired; you just have to be right for the job.
10. You don’t thank the interviewer.
What it means: “I have no manners.”
Forgetting to thank your interviewers in writing for their time can take the luster from even the most stellar interviewee. Always ask for a business card so you have the ability to send a follow-up “thank you” email once you get home.
These are 10 of the most important things NOT to do, as these have all proven to be “deal killers” in the past. I have personally experienced people losing their job offer based on 1 of these items over my extensive history in the field. These things will truly ruin your chances of being hired.
And now, the best advice! If you do only one thing on this interview, do this…
When the interview is winding down, the interviewer will always ask you if you have any questions. We discussed questions earlier in this document, but the paramount question to ask and the number one thing to do is to ask this question:
Is there anything missing from my background that would keep me from being a fit for this position?
We call this the CLOSE! This is your chance to overcome their objections, if they have any.
For example, if the interviewer says, “I am concerned about your lack of experience with ABC,” state, “I understand your concern, but I do have extensive experience with XYZ, which is very similar in many aspects as ABC, and I truly believe the learning curve will be minimal.”
But what if they say they have no concerns?
Then say, “When can I start!” I know, I know, that’s tough to say! But it’s a great icebreaker as well. You can even follow it up with a giggle! The easier way out is to ask, “Great, what are the next steps?” which is perfectly acceptable as well. Know your personality. If you can get away with “When can I start”, then go for it!
You might be thinking, now there’s 10 minutes of my life I won’t get back! I assure you, don’t think about it that way. This document is the product of a fusion of work with different companies, adding up to 30 years of combined experience. Good luck with your upcoming interview or prospective job and remember, CALL ME WHEN YOU ARE WALKING OUT OF THE INTERVIEW!