The First Telephone Contact
The objective of telephone conversation with your prospective
employer is to get invited to an in-person interview. Plan
out what you will say in advance. Prepare and use some short
quick statements that make the employer want to take a closer
look at you. Sales professionals use teasers to get their
foot into the front-door. You can do the same thing.
The things you say should be related to the company or its
industry so that it makes you look interesting and credible.
The things you say need to make you look interested in and
aware of the issues affecting the company or industry. This
will set you apart from the other candidates. Ideally the
things you say should be based on industry insight, team building
or a problem solving approach gained from first hand experience.
Telephone conversations can turn into interviews at any time.
Be scripted with things to say. Have a resume story line before
the phone call. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance
of not being surprised by the phone call. Some hiring managers
will call early in the morning, others will wait until dinner
or later. Have a copy of your resume by the phone, along with
your script of things you want to say and answers to commonly
asked interview questions.
This kind of telephone interview can last a few minutes or
over an hour. When you feel that you've scored enough points
with the interviewer, ask for a face to face interview! After
you have successfully scheduled the next interview, write
down the highlights of your interview. Write down the information
that was relayed to you. Include any skills or qualities that
they said that they were looking for. Include any strengths
or weaknesses you may have projected. Be honest and objective.
When you get to the in-person interview, build upon those
strengths and minimize the interviewer's perception of your
weaknesses with rehearsed examples of past accomplishments.
Be assertive. Keep in mind that the goal of the telephone
interview is to get invited to an in-person interview. Give it some thought in advance. Put in some preparation and
practice. Then give it your best!
Importance of Interview Performance
Fantastic! Your lengthy job search finally turned up an interview.
All that hard work has paid off. Simply answer a few questions
and the job is yours. Right? Maybe so, maybe not. Interview
performance is everything.
Regardless of the time you invest in your job hunt, interviewers
will base their hiring decision on your interview performance.
If you succeed with this performance, your reward will be
a new job that can improve the quality of your life. If you
do not succeed, you've just wiped out months of hard work
and perhaps experienced an indefinite setback. Serious job
hunters appreciate the significance of the interviewing process. The interview is clearly the most decisive part of your
job hunting campaign.
The Interview Process
To help you understand the interview process, you need to
realize that outstanding qualifications rarely guarantee employment. Job qualifications land interviews, but interviewing skills
land jobs. The employer will hire the candidate who is
perceived as the best person for the job. The person chosen
may not the "most qualified" candidate. The reason is simple.
Busy employers use a pre-screening process to select only
those applicants who meet specific minimum hiring requirements.
As a result, everyone who enters the interview is more or
less "qualified," and thereby, has a reasonable chance of
Remember that the interviewer does not know you. He does
not know your potential capabilities, and he cannot read your
mind. The interviewer is forced to base the hiring decision
on your interview performance. If you stumble over answers
or answer questions inappropriately, your chance of success
Even though you have an impressive background, if your interviewing
skills are weak, you may not get the job you deserve. A mediocre
candidate who has strong interviewing skills can take a great
job away from you. If, on the other hand, your competitors
have more education or experience than you, think positively.
With preparation, you can improve your interviewing skills
and give yourself a distinct advantage. In either case, appropriate
interview preparation will significantly increase your chances
of getting hired.
Prepare for the Interview
So how can you effectively prepare for an interview? After
all, you do not know what to expect. The answer is easier
than you might think.
Contrary to popular belief, job interviews are very predictable.
The interviewer simply wants to learn more about you -- and
who knows more about you, than you? Many of the questions
you will face are nonthreatening and easy to answer. There
may be, of course, some challenging questions, as well. These
can wreak havoc with the unprepared candidate.
On the bright side, however, because the possibilities are
limited, these questions are quite predictable. Sure, there
are minor variations, but if you prepare responses to the
general questions, you'll have no problem managing the variations.
By preparing and practicing in advance, you can deliver polished
answers to difficult questions. In doing so, you will impress
the interviewer(s) with your confidence and professionalism.
Consider the advantage you will have over other interview
Rehearse the Script to Get the Job
You can think of the job interview as an acting performance.
You are the actor or actress, and the questions and answers
are the script. Effective preparation involves rehearsing
the script in advance. Getting hired depends almost entirely
on how well you perform. If you know your lines, perfect your
delivery, and dress the part, you'll get the job.
With preparation and practice, you will increase your confidence,
reduce interview stress, and land the job and salary you deserve.
Without preparation and practice, you will leave the outcome
of your job hunt to chance. Preparing for the interview is
preparing for success.
Practice Makes Perfect
In today's competitive job market, interview success requires
careful preparation. You are certain to face rivalry from
other determined candidates. You can gain an edge over the
competition by practicing. Successful interviewing, like driving,
requires practice -- the more you practice, the better you
get. One poorly answered question can leave a lasting impression.
To combat interview stress, you must prepare in advance.
If you anticipate the difficult questions, there will be no
surprises. If you prepare solid answers to these questions,
you will always be ready to respond appropriately. And finally,
if you practice your answers in a realistic simulated interview,
you will project a confident and professional image.
To further improve your effectiveness, job-hunting experts
recommend that you record your voice while practicing your
answers. Recording and listening to your voice is an excellent
training technique. Evaluating your voice in a simulated interview
makes you far more effective. Remember to focus on improving
The key to effective interview training is realism. The closer
your training resembles real-life interviewing the better
your chances of success. Simply picture yourself sitting in
an actual interview, face-to-face with an interviewer and
You may be tempted to browse through the questions and mentally
prepare your answers. This approach definitely requires less
effort, but it is also much less effective. Speak aloud, as
though you are talking to a prospective employer. Using your
voice is much more difficult than simply imagining what to
say. By practicing with your voice, you will learn to deliver
more concise and effective responses.
To impress interviewers, you must focus on more than the
content of your answers--you also must evaluate how you sound
and how you look.
If you follow the training strategy as outlined above, you'll
be "light-years" ahead of other candidates. With practice
you will impress interviewers with the content of your answers,
the confidence in your voice, and the natural appearance of
your gestures and mannerisms. As a result, they will perceive
you as the "best" person for the job.
Some will tell you that "you should be yourself" during an
interview. That may not be good enough! You need to be the
best that you can be. The key to being your best is being
prepared. Preparation is the key to a successful interviewing
experience. It is imperative that you are cognizant of your
strengths as well as your weaknesses. Before the interview,
evaluate your assets and features. Consider which of these
will be of most benefit to the potential employer. Keep in
mind, however, that it won't help you to stretch the truth
or to make claims that you can't substantiate.
Anticipate questions, particularly tough ones. Write down
key questions and answers and then rehearse them. Practice
talking about yourself. In fact, it is a good idea to do it
in front of mirror so that you can see what impression you
One way to stand apart at the interview is to spend some
time researching the company. An annual report is a good place
to start. The company's web site is another great source of
general information. If you can, talk to someone who already
The answers you give to questions are important, but you
should also spend some time thinking about questions you want
to ask. Make sure the questions you ask are well thought out
It is important to recognize opportunities to advance your
position. For example, when the interviewer asks, "Do you
have any more questions?" you have a chance to ask a "closing
question." If this is the first interview your response should
be, "Yes, what is the next step?" or if it is the final interview,
respond, "Yes, when would you like me to start?"
Show and voice your enthusiasm early in the interviewing
process. If you wait to the conclusion of the interview to
do so, it is more than likely too late as the interviewer
may have already decided you are not interested and ruled
you out. When asking questions, ask as though you are already
Remember the interview starts and ends with the receptionist.
If you're asked to fill out paperwork do it graciously. If
your appointment is for ten o'clock and the interviewer is
running late, don't overreact, but be gracious. When you have
completed your interview remember to thank the receptionist
on your way out.
Forty Sample Interview Questions
Remember, interviewers ask tough questions to assess a candidate's
ability to handle actual situations. When candidates stumble
over questions, the interviewer assumes that they are not
prepared. This doesn't help your chances. So remember to be
Here are some commonly asked questions that you may want
to use as a starting point in your interview preparation:
(1) Tell me about yourself. (This is a great opportunity
to sell yourself. Relate specific accomplishments and abilities
to the company's needs How can you contribute to their success?)
(2) What are your major strengths? (Give examples.)
(3) What are your major limitations? (Don't talk yourself
out of a job. Give examples.)
(4) What are some of your biases or hang-ups? (Don't
talk yourself out of a job. Give examples.)
(5) What is the nicest thing you have ever done in your
life? (If you can't think of anything, go out and do something
nice! Demonstrate a "big heart" and you'll have a competitive
(6) What was the toughest decision you ever had to make? (Pick an example where you made a good, work-related decision.)
(7) What has been your biggest disappointment. (How
did you overcome the problem and what did it teach you?)
(8) What have you learned from your mistakes? (Give
(9) What are the biggest pressures in your present job? (Give examples.)
(10) What areas of your job do you most dislike? (Avoid
discussing problems in your current job.)
(11) Why are you leaving your present job? (Once again,
do not discuss negative issues, no matter how relevant.)
(12) Describe the ideal supervisor.
(13) In what areas do you feel that your supervisor could
do better? (It is best to avoid criticism of your current
or past supervisors.)
(14) What is the worst thing your supervisor could say
about you? (Don't talk yourself out of a job.)
(15) What is your idea of success? (Keep the answer
(16) What major trends do you see in the future for our
industry? (Do your homework so that you have something
to say for this one.)
(17) Why do you want to work here? (Do your homework
so that you have something to say for this one.)
(18) If hired, how would you benefit the organization? (Knowledge of the organization will help you here. What problems
can you solve? Discuss people skills, efficiency productivity,
and unique abilities. Give specific examples of previous successes.)
(19) What salary are you looking for? (The initial
interview is a risky time to discuss money. Say something
like "I intend to perform well and to be fairly compensated.
I would prefer to discuss specifics after the position is
(20) How sensitive are you to criticism? Describe
a situation where your supervisor criticized your idea. (Describe
as idea that seemed good at the time. Emphasize how well you
handled the criticism and worked with your supervisor to implement
a variation of the idea. How did it benefit the company?)
(21) What motivates you? ("I thrive from daily challenges
and from the satisfaction of performing well. I particularly
enjoy being part of a productive team and contributing to
the overall success of the company.")
(22) What are your short-range objectives?
(23) What are your long-range objectives?
(24) What do you look for in a job?
(25) Why are you leaving your present job?
(26) What can you do for us that someone else cannot do? Why should we hire you?
(27) Can you work under pressure?
(28) What kind of salary are you worth? Why?
(29) What were your five biggest accomplishments in your
present (or last) job? What were your five biggest accomplishments
in your career?
(30) What is your biggest strength? What is your biggest
(31) If you could start again, what would you do differently?
(32) How do you rate yourself as a manager?
(33) What new goals or objectives have you established
(34) What do you think of your boss?
(35) What features of your previous jobs have you liked?
(36) How would you describe the essence of success?
(37) What interests you most about the position we have?
(38) Are you a leader?
(39) How would you describe your personality?
(40) Have you helped increase profits? Have you
helped reduce costs?
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Technical Services who gave permission for us to use these.
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