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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 success.

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 goes down.

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 candidates.

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 your delivery.

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 practice.

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 are creating.

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 works there.

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 and appropriate.

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 an employee.

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 prepared.

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 edge.)

(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 examples.)

(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 job related.)

(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 offered.")

(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 weakness?

(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 recently? Why?

(34) What do you think of your boss?

(35) What features of your previous jobs have you liked? Disliked?

(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?

Thanks to our friends at Achieve Technical Services who gave permission for us to use these.



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