There’s simply not enough time in the day for hiring managers to conduct face-to-face interviews with each and every applicant. Consequently, companies are increasingly making use of phone interviews as a means of thinning the herd – that is, weeding out candidates that simply wouldn’t work out. The goal is to end up with a more manageable number of applicants.
While the prospect of a phone interview can be somewhat daunting, it’s important to view it as an opportunity for you to earn an in-person interview. Fortunately, most phone interviews are relatively short. The focus is on questions that will enable the employer to evaluate you quickly. In keeping with that goal, aim for short but concise answers, ideally less than two minutes each. If the interviewer wants to know more, they will ask.
Here are some questions you should expect to be asked in a phone interview:
Tell me about yourself? – Typically the first question to be asked, this one is best answered by simply giving a brief work history, along with an explanation of how your skills relate to the job for which you are applying. Whatever you do, don’t look at this question as an opportunity to tell your life story.
What experience do you have? – Your goal should be to highlight your skills and experiences as they pertain to the job in question. Endeavor to steer the discussion to specific skills which give you the ability to execute your duties well.
What are your strengths? – Again, gear your response toward the specific skill requirements of the job for which you are applying. If you find it difficult to make that connection, you should highlight transferable skills, such as multitasking, critical thinking, and the ability to communicate well, instead.
What are your weaknesses? – The question that applicants always dread, this one can easily be answered simply by responding that it’s always a challenge to stay current on technology requirements. After all, that is a challenge everyone faces. Be sure to turn your answer into something positive by explaining how you have endeavored to develop such knowledge.
What are your salary requirements? – Another tricky question, this one can take you out of the running if you aim too high right off the bat. When you are participating in a phone interview, it’s best to avoid giving a straight answer. You may state that you simply don’t know enough about the position yet to make a salary request. This answer opens the door to requesting an in-person meeting, which should be your bottom line goal anyway.
While it may seem that a phone interview does not allow for much opportunity to impress a potential employer, it’s actually a great chance to introduce yourself without all the stress of a face-to-face interview. After all, you don’t have to worry about your appearance or your body language over the phone.
That said, it’s still helpful to smile during the interview. The interviewer may not be able to see your face, but they will hear the smile in your voice. You will be perceived as more open, friendly, and enthusiastic about the job. Also, stand up and walk around while you are on the phone with the interviewer. Not only will it help you relax, walking around actually makes your voice clearer and louder. The interviewer will better understand your answers and you will come across as more confident.