A phone interview is executed just like a face to face interview, is used generally to discard or identify candidates for employment. It's important to be prepared on any moment because one doesn't know in which moment a recruiter might call. This type of interview is a very efficient tool to meet main characteristics of candidates, it's composed by around 10 – 12 questions and if you achieve passing the next phase of interviews you'll gain a face-to-face interview, but this is the first opportunity to impress the interviewer.
Most companies use a phone interview because of the resources needed for on-site interviews, especially when candidates live out of town or abroad; or it's because employers are too busy. You won't be selected for a job at once through the phone, it is true but this method definitely narrows the options, and after a selection, some candidates are invited to a one-on-one interview.
Another reason to go for a job interview is to get a better idea of the candidate's personality and to test him/her if the job has to do with talking to people. It also helps interviewers to be sure that the resume is true and interesting by asking some specific questions.
The interview is usually planning before so you can wait for it, in that case you must be careful to not forget the appointment; but in other companies they call candidates and ask them if they have a few minutes to talk without any advice.
Phone interviews let employers notice some skills and aptitudes during the interview, by example they pay attention to: how properly the candidate speaks, how enthusiastic he/she sounds, how polite he/she is, if the candidate ask questions of his/her own, the interest the candidate put in the job.
COMMON PHONE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself?
In this case you're going to present yourself and it must be impressive, generally this question will open the interview and will capture the attention of the interviewer. Your answer must be short and contain only pertinent information, highlight your skills and potential value to the company. To make this easier you can consider these words: I am, I have, I can. It's a good idea to write your presentation before, study it and revise it before the phone call in order to suit to each interview.
2. Why did you leave your last job? Why do you want to leave your current job? How did you lose your last job?
At this time it's important to keep the positivism, and enthusiasm, don't talk negative things about your last job or the company in which you are currently working (even if you have reasons to do so), you need to be honest but recognize the good stuff in your job; remember never talk unkindly about a past experience or employer you can replace negative thoughts with ideas such as: a better opportunity, a better fit for you, a step in your career.
3. What interests you in this position? What do you know about us?
This question is the perfect one to let the interviewer notice your interest in the job and in be part of the company, you must have at least basic information about the company, and the position that you're applying. You can take advantage of the question and talk about your achievements related to the position and show interest in processes in the company including things you probably have researched.
4. What are your career goals?
To answer this question you can start with your graduation and explain the thinking process that went into take each path or career moves. Then you can also explain your dream job; include why you want to get there and how the previous steps will help you.
5. Tell me about your experience, or tell me about your experience at ______?
Explain about your past experience relevant to the job you want to apply, and how your skills helped in doing it correctly. You can give examples of preventing and solving situations during your last job. All information related to the job will help you let the interviewer know you're able to take the job and the responsibility.
6. Give me an example of when you did _______ ?
The employer might take some information from your resume and ask you for experiences in each one of the jobs you had before the interview or maybe, the interviewer will take any of the experiences you said before and ask you when you applied certain skill, ability or knowledge.
Possible question can include: a time when you managed a difficult employee and resolved it?, a time when you had to overcome an objection?, etc.
7. Tell me about your strengths and/or weaknesses?
It's easy to talk about one's strengths in this case you should emphasize on the aspects related to the job, communication skills, multi-tasking, critical thinking. On the other hand when talking about weaknesses you must prepare yourself to give honest but positive answers at the end, it means for example indicate how you addressed or are addressing the problem. Explain how your weaknesses are in fact strengths for you. It's also important to reveal the right weakness or choose something in which you are working currently.
8. What was your greatest accomplishment? Also, what were your 3 greatest accomplishments
It's an important tip to include in your greatest accomplishments some situations in previous jobs in which you can demonstrate your ability to save money, time or earn money for benefit of the company. It's important to organize your ideas through a structure starting with the situation then your tasks and actions to solve the situation and finally the result. If it's not enough, you can include other situations such as: A new experience your tried, volunteering, any awards, etc.
9. What are you looking for in terms of salary/compensation? What are your salary expectations?
Be sure to be honest at this part as in the entire interview; it'll be great if you take time to research salaries especially in those positions included in your area. This question is generally made to see if you are not above their range, but you must think carefully because no company would like to hire someone whose salary won't motivate him/her. You can consider some aspects such as: Your current (or last) salary, your experience, and equity according to other people in the company with a similar position. Be fair, don't wish to be over paid or get under valuated neither.
10. What questions do you have for me?
This could be the last question in the interview. You must be creative at this part and ask interesting questions to cause a good impression.
- How would you describe your company's culture?
- Why is this position vacant?
- How will I know that I have met your goals?
- What are the future goals of the company?
- Why did you choose to work for this company?
- How will my performance be evaluated, and how often?
The problem with these intelligent questions is that everybody else will ask them, and then you get common, normal and less interesting or even boring. You will ask the best question if they come from the interview itself, it means from the questions the interviewer asked you, for example: "According to some questions during the interview I've noticed that you have a problem with _____. Can you tell me a little more about the current situation and the challenges for the job?
The question also might vary according to the position of the interviewer in the company; if he/she is the hiring manager or the human resources manager or management; you must look for question that could interest in each case. Be wise in considering in which moment you can ask certain question like those related to benefits or vacation, or you can left them for the face-to-face interview.
PHONE INTERVIEW TIPS FOR CANDIDATES
You must consider as in any other interview 3 important phases:
Before the interview:
Once you have been notified, it's pretty important if you can find who will be interviewing you and you must plan your time to avoid interruptions, consider that the interview can take from 20-30 minutes or 60-90 depending on the interviewer.
Although it's an interview by phone you need to be prepared as if it were a regular interview, and compile a list with the information the employer could ask, including:
- Strengths and weaknesses.
- Keep your resume in clear view and place it near to the phone.
- Have a list of accomplishments.
- Turn call-waiting off, it'll be enough pressure to have the interview.
- Select a clear place, far from kids, pets, TV or any other distraction.
Practice talking on the phone and record it so you can see in which aspects you can improve in your conversational speech, the order of your ideas, your voice and conviction, etc.
During the interview
- Have a pen and a paper to take notes.
- Remember to be positive and enthusiast because poor communication skills and lack of enthusiasm are the main reasons why people can't get a face to face interview.
- Have some water near in case you need to wet your mouth.
- Be polite by using the person's title (Mr. or Ms.) with the last name and thank the interviewer for his/her time.
- You can take your time to order your thoughts before answering a question.
- Don't tell stories, give short answers.
After the interview
Try to remember the questions and answers you gave during the interview and register them.
It could be very polite to give a thank you note, reiterating your interest in the job.
If you impress with your responses, prepare immediately in the different types of interview because it's almost sure that you'll invited for an on-site interview.
TIPS FOR INTERVIEWERS
- Keep the CV and all necessary information about the candidate you are calling at hand when calling.
- Have a pen and paper within reach.
- Make sure your call-waiting mode is off so the interview is not interrupted.
- In case your call has not been scheduled and the candidate is not available make sure to re-schedule the appointment at a convenient time.
- Make a list of important questions you would like to ask.
- Make sure there will not be noises or interruptions.
- Remember that a landline is always more reliable than a mobile phone line.
- Make straight, clear questions; you do not want to repeat yourself many times on the phone.
- Keep water near you to wet your throat.
- Keep an appropriate voice tone.
- Check the candidate´s info clearly before calling.
- Take notes of everything you consider important right after you hang up.