Phone Interviews: How to Field the Most Common Questions

June 13th, 2014

Companies often begin the interview process with a quick phone screening after the initial resume review stage. Once the stack of candidates is narrowed down to a reasonable size, a round of short phone conversations can narrow it further by eliminating candidates who can’t or won’t accept the job for a host of practical reasons. It’s more cost effective to identify these reasons before bringing a candidate all the way in for an in-person meeting, which can mean travel expenses, missed work, and lost time for both parties.

When your potential employers contact you by phone for a brief round of general questions, you’ll want to be ready, since making the right impression can move you forward to the next stage. Here are a few of the questions that will likely be part of this process.

1. “This job will be located in X city. Your address is outside of a 30 minute commuting range, so what are your plans if you’re offered the position?”

Your employer wants to know if you plan to take on a harrowing commute, or if you intend to move in order to be closer to the workplace. The two of you will need to determine who will cover these moving expenses and how much time this move might take. These are practical considerations that your employer will need to factor into the selection process.

2. “I can see from your resume that you lack a specific credential that this job will require. (A degree, a year of experience, a software skill, etc). How do you plan to step into the role without this qualification?”

If you plan to enroll in a course to compensate for this skill deficit, now is the time to say so. If you’re already enrolled, state your intended completion date. And if you simply don’t have this credential and there’s nothing you can do about it right now, keep the conversation focused on the strengths and contributions you can offer that might make this one issue seem less important.

3. “This job will involve a responsibility that’s (difficult, dangerous, etc). I can tell by some of the details in your resume that you may not be prepared for this. How will you adapt to this challenge?”

Answer honestly. If this information is a dealbreaker for you, say so now. If you still want the job, find a clear, concrete way to explain how and why this challenge won’t be a problem for you.

For more information that can help you navigate the challenges of your initial phone or video screening, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

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