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.

How to Make a Strong Impression During a Phone Interview

January 17th, 2014

Many employers who are pressed for time or constrained by tight budgets decide to streamline the candidate selection process by using phone interviews during the first round. A quick phone screening can reduce an applicant pool by half or more, simplifying a complex decision. And phone interviews cost almost nothing for parties on both ends of the conversation.

So, if you need to get past this first round before meeting your potential employers in person, here are a few moves that can help you make a strong impression using only your words and your voice.

1. Before the moment of your scheduled interview, stretch your body and loosen up. Then stand. If you can’t stand, sit up straight. These simple moves will open your circulation, expand your chest and lungs, and will have an impact that your listeners will be able to hear through the phone.

2. As odd as it sounds, your listeners will also be able to hear your smile. So smile before you answer the phone. And make your smile as genuine as possible—engage your entire face, not just your mouth.

3. Don’t rush to speak. Let your interviewer finish talking and then pause for a full second before you make a sound. In real life, the other person can take cues from your face regarding your engagement, interest and listening skills. But the phone won’t allow this. So relax. Don’t talk over your interviewer or cut them off, no matter how enthusiastic you feel.

4. Know exactly what you’ll say if your interviewer simply hands the conversation over to you, because this might happen. If she says something like “Tell me about yourself,” or “Tell me something about why I should hire you for this job”, know what you’ll say. Don’t let the line fall silent while you struggle to organize your thoughts.

5. Have a copy of your resume in hand. There’s a strong chance your interviewer will ask about it or refer to it as she speaks, so don’t waste her time while you slowly open your computer, let it boot up, search for the file, etc, etc. While you’re at it, you may also want to open the company’s website so your reviewer can use it as a reference during your conversation.

6. Allow the interviewer to control the conversation and follow their lead. Pick up their tone and reflect the same tone back. And if you run into a tangle or miscommunication, simply become quiet and allow her to ask for or provide the necessary clarification.

For more on how to navigate the phone interview process and make your way into the next round with style, contact the NC staffing team at PSU.

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