Are You Prepared for These 4 Phone Interview Questions?
By Bob McIntosh, Career Trainer
Yesterday, I spoke with a job seeker who had an hour and a half telephone interview. It seemed to my job seeker as if it were a preamble to a job offer. Sight unseen, he was invited to visit the company in Alabama all expenses paid.
If you think a telephone interview isn’t a real interview, you’re sadly mistaken. Telephone interviews are generally thought of as a screening device, but they carry a lot of weight and, in some cases, they’re full-fledged interviews. Often times, job seekers don’t take the telephone interview seriously, and this is a huge mistake.
This is the type of response I sometimes get from my workshop attendees when they tell me they have a telephone interview, “It’s just a telephone interview. I hope I get a face-to-face.” I tell them to prepare as hard as they would for a personal interview. Don’t get caught off guard.
Yes, the face-to-face is the next step, but you can’t get there without impressing the interviewer on the other end of the phone, whether she’s a recruiter, hiring manager, HR, or even the owner of a company. Generally, the interviewer is trying to obtain four bits of information from you -- areas to which you can respond well or fail.
1. Do you have the skills and experience to do the job?
The first of the interviewer’s interests is one of the easiest to meet. For example, let's say that you’ve applied for a medical staff credentialing manager position that’s “perfect” for you; you have experience and accomplishments required of a strong medical staff credentialing manager. Your organization and management skills are above reproach, demonstrated by successfully monitoring the verification process for medical staff incumbents. In addition, you completed physician, nurse and other employee verifications and ensured that the organization and staff are in accordance with staff by-laws, industry trends and standard credentialing procedures.
2. Are you motivated and well liked?
Your former colleagues describe you as amiable, extremely goal oriented, and one who exudes enthusiasm. The last quality shows motivation and will carry over nicely to your work for the next employer. You’ve done your research and have decided that this is the organization you want to work for; it’s on your “A” list.
When the interviewer asks why you want to work for the company, you gush with excitement and feel a bit awkward telling her you love the responsibilities set forth in the job description. But your enthusiasm for the job and company is well noted by the employer. Further, through your networking, you’ve learned about the work culture, including the management team. You tell her it sounds a lot like your former employer and will be a great fit.
3. Why did you leave your last company?
This one is tough for you, because even though you were laid off, you feel a bit insecure and wonder if you were to blame. Your company was acquired and there would be duplication within your department that exists for the company that bought yours. You keep this answer brief, 15 seconds and there are no follow-up questions. You’re doing great so far.
4. What is your salary expectation?
“So, what do you want?” The question hits you like a brick. “Excuse me,” you say. “What do you expect for salary? What will it take to get you to the next step?” the interviewer says. Your mind goes blank. You’ve been instructed to handle the question in this order:
• Try to deflect the question.
• If this doesn’t work, ask for their range.
• And if this doesn’t work, give them your range.
• When all else fails, you cite an exact figure based on your online research and networking.
You’ve forgotten everything your job coach told you and blurt out an exact figure. “At my last job I made $72,000.” But this isn’t the question asked. The interviewer wants you to tell her what you expect for salary, not what you made at your last company. “Is this what you had in mind?” you timidly say.
There’s a pause at the other end, and finally the voice thanks you for your time. She tells you if you’re suitable for an interview at the company, you’ll be notified within a week. She says it looks promising for you.
But you know right then that the position hangs in the balance. You’ve spoken first and within 10 seconds said something you can’t take back. You were prepared, but not prepared enough. You didn’t think this interview counted; you’d do better at the face-to-face, if you get there.
About the Author
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer at the Career Center of Lowell, where he leads more than 20 workshops on the career search. Bob is often the person jobseekers and staff go to for advice on the job search. As well, he critiques resumes and conducts mock interviews. One of his greatest accomplishments is starting a LinkedIn group, which is one of the largest of its kind in the state, and developing three in-high-demand workshops on LinkedIn. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Please visit Bob's blog at www.thingscareerrelated.wordpress.com.