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.

Reduce Stress by Opening Communication Lines

April 25th, 2014

Feeling tired? Hassled? A little burned out? Are you experiencing fewer satisfying days and a growing number of days that make survival feel like a victory? If you’re hanging on by your fingertips, navigating one crisis after another, and just barely managing to stay on top of your overflowing inbox, imagine how your employees must feel. And if you HAVE to imagine this, because you know that your employees will never tell you directly that they’re overworked and need a break, then your solution might be summarized in one word: communication.

Better communication and more open dialogue can solve a long list of workplace problems at once. And as these problems are resolved, obstacles to productivity fall away one by one. Keep the lines open by keeping these considerations in mind.

1. Open your door, literally.

It’s one thing to claim you have an “open door policy”, but it’s another to stand by it. Unless you’re in the middle of a very private conversation, keep your door ajar and never answer a knock or a hello with a glare or exasperated sigh. Respond to inquiries with an expression of welcome and interest. And even when you’re buried in work, don’t let the door close completely.

2. Practice blameless reviews.

Your marketing campaign is over, the big contract project is complete, the product rollout is underway, and—win or lose—it’s time for a review and debriefing session. If the project was an unquestionable victory, this process will be pleasant. But if it wasn’t, don’t make things worse by assigning blame. Employees who fear blame will clam up, take no risks, share no ideas, and foster a culture of silence and dishonesty. In a blameless environment, everyone works toward the same goal, feelings and ideas are shared, and real progress can happen.

3. Practice criticism-free brainstorming.

After big projects, rein in the blame. Beforehand, rein in the criticism and shut-downs. And really rein it in—don’t just prevent managers from engaging in this behavior; encourage them to prevent it in among their direct reports.

4. Keep your reactions measured, calm and positive.

An employee needs better resources to complete their job. Another wants to ask for a raise. Another has to deliver a bit of bad news. And a fourth wants your signature on a complex document you don’t have time to read right now. No matter how you react to each of these advances, think carefully, and take a deep breath before you respond. Snapping, dismissals, and hasty decisions can push employees away and make them hesitant to approach you with real and pressing concerns. Stay in control and don’t let this happen.

While you allow your employees to come to you with their issues, learn how to approach them directly with yours. For more on how to keep conversations flowing in both directions, reach out to the staffing experts at PSU.

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