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How to Effectively Answer the Toughest Phone Interview Questions

Telephone interviews are a common element in a Middle Tennessee recruiter’s candidate selection process.  They help the interviewer weed out applicants who don’t meet the job’s basic requirements.

If you perform well over the phone, you can expect to be offered an in-person interview.  But you have just a few minutes to make a favorable impression.  So be prepared!  Use these tips from Wood Personnel to ace your next phone screen and land that face-to-face interview:

  • Do your homework.  Research the company.  Visit their web site to familiarize yourself with their products and services, as well as their performance and reputation in the market.  In addition, make sure you’re up-to-date on recent trends in your industry.
  • Set the stage.  Schedule the interview at a time when you can concentrate and talk without interruption.  Choose a location that’s quiet and free from distractions.  Place your resume and the job posting information in an area where you can clearly see it.
  • Use a land line.  If possible, have the interviewer call you on a land line to avoid the potential for a bad connection or dropped call.
  • Use proper phone etiquette.  Use the interviewer’s name (i.e., Mr., Ms. or Mrs. X) during the conversation and be a good listener.  Don’t interrupt.  If you accidentally talk over the interviewer, apologize and ask him to please continue.
  • Smile!  Though the interviewer can’t actually see your smile, he’ll hear it in your voice.  You’ll come across as more confident, capable and enthusiastic.
  • Keep your answers concise (less than two minutes).  If a recruiter wants more information, he can ask for clarification.
  • Speak clearly and slowly.  When you are nervous, you are more likely to speed up your rate of speech.  Before you answer each question, take a moment to gather your thoughts.  Slow your speech just a bit so you don’t trip over your words.
  • Convey your interest in the job.  During the phone screening, state directly that you are looking forward to the opportunity to come in for an in-person interview.
  • Practice, practice, practice.  The better prepared you are, the more comfortable and poised you will sound over the phone.

Speaking of practice…If you’re on the job hunt in Cool Springs, use this list of common phone interview questions (and suggested responses) to make a recruiter’s snap decisions work in your favor:

Tell me a little bit about yourself.  If you practice answering just one interview question, make it this one.  To impress an interviewer, you should be able to give a 90-second personal sales pitch convincing him that meeting you is absolutely essential.  Your answer should include a brief review of your education, work history, recent accomplishments and future goals.

Why are you interested in this job?  To answer this question well, describe how your skills and experience match the qualifications listed in the job posting.  This way, the employer will see that you understand the job for which you’re interviewing (not everybody takes the time to do this) and that you also have the qualifications needed to do the job well.

What can you do for our company?  To nail this question, you need to do your homework (check the company web site, LinkedIn, recent press releases and anything else you can find on Google).  Once you are familiar with the company and its mission, compare how your experience and goals might complement the company’s goals.  Your response to this question should include examples of why your education, skills, accomplishments and experience will make you an asset for the employer.

Need help with your Cool Springs job search?  Wood Personnel is here to lend a hand – contact your Middle Tennessee employment agency today!