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Preparing for a Phone Interview

written by: theMallorys•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 7/5/2011

If you know how to prepare for a phone interview, you’ll be a step ahead of many of your competitors. Learn about questions to expect, questions to ask, and how to conduct yourself on the phone.

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    Phone Interview Tips

    baby on phone in tub 

    One of the best skills you can learn when job hunting is how to prepare for a phone interview. Companies often interview candidates over the phone to save costs and to quickly screen candidates that won’t be a good fit for the position.

    Very few companies hire based on the phone interview alone. There’s often an in-person interview that follows if you sell them on the fact that you’re the best applicant for the job. Your goal is to not get crossed off the list after the call, and at the same time, make the recruiter want to meet with you in person or hire you for the job.

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    Prepare Your Answers to Common Questions in Advance

    You can’t anticipate every single question that the person conducting the interview will ask, but there are common questions that you’d better prepare for. The recruiter doesn’t have the advantage of watching your body language or observing other non-verbal cues that indicate you’re a confident person and the best candidate for the job. You have to do that with your voice and timing alone, and preparing answers in advance helps. Here are some common questions to expect:

    • What is your salary history, and what do you expect to be paid for this position?
    • What are your weaknesses?
    • What are your strengths?
    • What do you do in your free time?
    • Why did you leave your last position?
    • What makes you the best candidate for this position?
    • What are you goals for the next three to five years?
    • If we hire you, will you relocate?
    • Do you have any questions?

    The answer to the final question needs to be yes. If you don’t ask the interviewer any questions, you’ll appear uninterested in the company or the position. Asking questions also provides an opportunity for dialog, which is the key to helping the recruiter feel good about the interview. Don’t just learn how to prepare for a phone interview by crafting answers to anticipated questions. Focus on initiating and holding a conversation as well.

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    Prepare Questions to Ask Employers During the Interview

    The questions you ask are just as informative to the recruiter as the answers you give to their questions. It’s your opportunity to show your competency, and that you’re engaged with the phone interview. Here are some questions that you should ask at some point, if they fit in with the tone and direction of the phone interview:

    • What are the company goals for the next three to five years?
    • Does the company offer training? Could you describe it to me?
    • What are the opportunities for career advancement?
    • If I’m hired for the job, what will be your expectations?
    • When do you hope to fill this position?
    • What is the management philosophy and management style of the person who would supervise me?

    You’ll have the answers you need to decide whether you want to take the job if it’s offered to you. Ask follow up questions when appropriate to keep the conversation going, but don’t draw the call out too long. If it was scheduled for a one hour interview, keep it to that, unless the recruiter wants to keep the call going.

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    Once you learn how to prepare for a phone interview, and have your first few experiences, you may prefer it to in-person interviews. Follow up with a thank-you note to the recruiter for the time spent on the phone. It will serve as one more reminder that you’re the best candidate for the job.

    Image Credit:Karolina Michalak