I Need You to Call Me

(CC) Thomas Hawk via Compfight

You made it! Your resume was pulled out of the vast pile as a potential good match for the position.  Now, you have a telephone interview.

Nowadays, most companies – large, medium and small – do initial screening of candidates over the telephone.  It’s a low-cost way of beginning a conversation about whether you really are the “right fit” for the position.

Here’s what the phone interviewer wants to know:

  • Do you really understand and meet the basic requirements? They probably will ask you questions about your understanding of the position and the skills needed. If you can talk knowledgeably and sensibly about it, you’ll do fine. So study the position description. Identify times and situations when you’ve used the skills so you can tell a story.
  • Do you really know your resume? In all likelihood they will run you through it. Some interviewers start with the position farthest in the past and go through the present. Be familiar with what you did, and be prepared to talk about anything that is in your resume.
  • Are you “presentable?” Is there a likelihood that you’ll impress the people who are hiring you, should we bring you forward? Do you speak well and articulately about yourself and your experience? Do you seem to know what you want?

These are some of the questions you might be asked:

1. Tell us about yourself. This introduction should touch on the main themes of your Core Value Proposition (in line with the intention statement and your profile), matching experiences to those themes. It’s like doing a media interview: you decide what 3 messages you want them to retain and return to, and you build your presentation around that. Just bullet point it to prep because you want to be as authentic as possible on a phone interview.

2. Why do you want to work here?

3. What do you have to offer us?

4. What do you know about our company and the environment in which this person will work?

5. What kind of experience do you have working with _____? Fill in the blank – it could refer to top executives, talent, outside stakeholders, union members, children, a particular kind of client – whatever is specific to the company or organization.

6. Are you comfortable working ________? Again, fill in the blank with the particulars of the position. Perhaps it will be working remotely, in different locations, with multiple bosses, by yourself, in a hectic environment.   Comb through the job description to find potential work conditions you might have to address.

7. Tell us about a crisis situation you managed. They want to know how well you handle sudden and unexpected happenings, what approach you take to problem solving, how professional and unflappable you are.  A variation on this is “Tell us about a failure you had and how you dealt with it.”

8. Do you have any questions for us? This is the place where they get to see how much you know about the company, position and industry. So ask something! Here are some suggestions:

  • What is the team like that you’d be working with?
  • How closely would you work with specific other staff?
  • What will success look like for this person?
  • How much time will be spent on specific functions?
  • What’s the culture of the organization?
  • Do you have a strategic plan? If so, how far along are you and how are you doing? What responsibilities will this position have regarding the plan?

Some of these can wait until the next interview, because you certainly will ace the phone interview when you prepare for it.