Telephone Interview Tips??

  1. I have a telephone interview tommorow for a teaching position. I applied online for this job in another state that I am relocating to. The lady I spoke with said the interview should take 45 minutes and to let my experience speak for itself. I am confident in my skills but I feel the need to prepare for the type of questions that may be asked. What do you all suggest?? Has any1 ever had a telephone interview? I don't know if I should limit my answers to a certain time length b/c I have no idea how many questions they will ask. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Have your resume and any related documents with you. Have a large legal size pad or paper with you so that you can make brief notes, like when she asks a question you can make quick notes to yourself before you answer. Be prepared to ask her questions too. Here are a couple that have worked swell for me.
    1. What are the top 3 characteristics that you are looking for in your candidate?
    2. What 2 problems that you are currently facing would you like to see your candidate solve?
    3. What issues in the workplace keep you up at night?

    Keep the dog outside, NO interuptions, no drinking water, and count to 3 before you answer any question.

    Good luck!
  3. I had a phone interview to get my current position. The biggest tip I can give you is don't be afraid to ask the person to repeat a question, or to ask them to give you a moment while you decide how to respond. You will almost become an expert at fibbing. After the first couple of minutes on the phone, it does become a little more relaxing and you will almost be able to sense what kind of answers they want to get out of you. Just take your time and don't be afraid of doing so. Oh, and don't forget to *breathe*.

    Best of luck! :o)
  4. Wow.

    Something, somewhere, is wrong. I know it is me and I can't blame anybody else.

    Never once have I ever gotten past a phone interview. Not once. And it just happened again, this time at an ad agency that I really wanted to work for. I'm not actively looking for work, but this opportunity popped up, I know I am qualified, and I just applied although I'm fairly happy where I am.

    For in-person interviews, I've always made it to the final round (and obviously have definitely been hired a few times!).

    Can anyone give me any points? I knew immediately upon hanging up the phone that this phone interview I just had did not go well. The woman did not click with me, I was rapid-fired questions for which I could only provide canned answers that make it sound like I'm tooting my own horn excessively (what other kind of answers are there for questions like "What would you say is your strongest trait?" and other generic, nonspecific questions).

    I really need some tips because I obviously do not sound like someone you'd want to work with on the phone. In person, I don't seem to have this problem.

    Some things I may have done wrong (or maybe not? no clue!):
    - I told her "bigger and better" is not always the best route, in my opinion, since I work for a small but hugely respected design firm... but this ad agency is a giant in the industry, so maybe that was a bad move
    - I would be willing to take a fairly significant paycut for this job but I'd be happy to because I really want the work for this agency
    - I worked out a math problem out loud, like, talked her through my thought process rather than sit silently until I figured it out (I did get it correct)

    Any advice would be much appreciated.
  5. Ad agencies can be a tricky lot ... I've been in the ad industry for 15+ years now. And you're right, agencies often make decisions on personalities before anything else. Could you talk more about what questions you were asked?
  6. Wow. We are the exact opposite! I am excellent at phone interviews but tend to get really nervous in person interviews.

    Since you have much less personal interaction, you really have to have a great spiel for yourself. You can't really impress your interviewer with any interpersonal skills or persona you have through the phone. Think about it from the interviwer's perspective, does it matter that your canned answers are unoriginal, as long as they are excellent and right for the job? So don't worry about being unoriginal. If you really are someone that thrives under pressure, then do say that and follow through with an example: "When I worked with my current team on this whatever project, I was able to blah blah..." Fill up every moment of silence of an example of something great you did in the past.

    Don't tell your interviewer that "bigger is not always better" if his/her firm is the bigger firm. You sound like you don't really want the job. Even if you aren't sure about it in your heart, it's no good to reveal it in the interview. This is true of both phone and in person interviews. I think it's a common mistake that women make (myself included,) to try to be honest in interviews instead of completely selling yourself to the firm.

    I'm not sure about the taking a paycut part, since I have never negotiated a salary before. But do be aware that women are less aggressive in negotiating their salaries up front, and there is no reason why it should be this way. It's often harder to negotiate pay increases once you have the job, so don't give up this chance to start at a higher salary. Don't sell yourself short. If you are really qualified for the position, why shouldn't they pay you at least the same as you are being paid now?

    Working out the math problem out loud was a great move. She/he gets to see how you think, which is why she/he asked the question in the first place. Also you avoid the awkward silence as you scribble stuff down.

    Good luck with your interviews! Remember it all gets better with practice!
  7. Hi Lori (first of all, thanks so much for your help),

    One question I probably flopped on was: "What commitment were you not able to see through and why?" I did an internship for a fashion magazine (or rather, one very specific department of a fashion magazine) that I was not able to see through for the entire duration. Somehow, the pay-versus-commitment had not been made clear to me (and anyway, so many girls are magazines don't care because they have family money to live on) and I basically ended up not being able to support myself. I ended up juggling a full-time job plus this internship and ultimately dropped this internship.

    I was also asked the standard questions like "What project are you most proud of completing; when did you step in and take the initiative; when did you work in a team to complete something, etc."

    I was given the opportunity to ask questions at the end, but a woman in HR interviewed me and I really wasn't certain what to ask somebody in HR. I mean, does she fully comprehend what the job entails versus what it says on paper, what the day-to-day functions are, how many hours you're actually going to work (versus, what they say, which is always something like 40-50 but in actuality is 80-100), what the person you're working for is like, etc. I should probably have asked better questions than I did.
  8. Just from what I've read, I would say that MAYBE you might have sold yourself as being desperate. I agree with forever21 and you might not want to say "bigger is not necessarily better" if it doesnt make sense based on the company size with whom you are interviewing. Also, don't mention taking a paycut if that doesn't come up. Volunteering that info may lead your interviewer to think you are telling that to every company you interview with. This could make them think you'll always move on if something else comes up, or that you don't value the quality of work you are capable of. If the interviewer asks you about your salary requirements, you should already have done research and know what is acceptable in that industry for that area/city. Give them a broad range and back it up with your reasons (I.E. because you have no experience or because you know similar companies are paying within THIS range). Also you might mention that you are flexible based on the company's employee benefits package. This is a huge bonus because most employers only contribute the bare minimum to medical insurance and small companies may not even offer any.
    Good job talking out the math problem. You definitely want your potential employer to know you know what you're doing.
    If the HR personnel wraps up the phone conversation by asking you if you have any questions, you should ask them what the next step is and when you can expect to hear further from them. Ask this after you ask any job-related questions. This signifies you're satisfied with the conversation and ends the interview neatly. Good luck! I think it's awesome you're researching tips to do well on your next phone interview! Also, dont take it personal all the time. The economy is down and many employers can't afford to hire someone or even replace a position for that matter. You'll be fine when you find the right company! :tup:
  9. Thanks very much for the advice, I really appreciate it. I regret saying "bigger is not always better." The context was that I received an unsolicited job offer from a large design firm that's a direct competitor to my firm, and I turned it down. She asked me why and I said "bigger is not always better, I have to respect the work the firm does." Yikes, maybe that bit me in the butt.

    I'm definitely not taking it personally, it's my own problem and I don't think anyone is out to get me. I just want to improve because these huge ad agencies seem to love phone interviews and I obviously suck at them.
  10. The internship answer was a tough one. I'm sure you know that in ad agencies, when you're at the bottom, the pay is low and the hours are long (believe me, I've been there). So if the interviewer sensed that you didn't choose to do that previously, she may have weeded you out at that point.

    And you're right, some people in HR aren't well versed on each job description, so she may not have known what your job might be. However, a screening interview is not the time to ask nitty-gritty questions such as how many hours per week you would be working, what your boss would be like, etc. In a situation where you are put on the spot to ask questions of an interviewer, I've found that the best question to ask is, "Is there anything else that you're looking for to fill this position that I may not have mentioned to you yet?" That gives the interviewer a chance to express any doubts they may have, and it gives you a chance to dispel those doubts.

    All may not be lost yet. I'd give it a few days and call her back to follow up. Let her know that you're really interested in the position and you may have not communicated everything you should have to let her know that you're qualified. Then ask her the question I mentioned above. It may change her mind or make you look like a stronger candidate. Be the squeaky wheel!
  11. A gracious way to answer that question is to say it wasn't a good fit for you and your career goals. That way, nothing negative is said.

    Also keep in mind that no matter what firm you work for, there will be times where you don't like the work that the agency does. You might even completely disrespect it. However, the agency is paid by the client to churn out that work, so sometimes you will just have to roll with it.
  12. I used to conduct phone interviews to pre-screen applicants, and one of the deciding factors for me was their tone of voice and personality, as it appeared via the telephone.

    (Of course not implying that you do this) Some people are monotone and very rigid, just spouting back the answers you want to hear. Also, there are times where they sound full of themselves, or cocky, which turns me off. I think confidence is good, but arrogance really annoys me, and a lot of time it shows in your tone of voice and the way you speak.

    I think you did pretty well, esp. when you worked out the math problem verbally. Because this person was from HR, and was asking you very generic, non-job specific questions, she was most likely pre-screening for personality.

    If you are personable, easy to talk to, and confident, I think you will make the cut. Second-guessing yourself, stuttering, pauses (ummm... I guess... I think...), a soft voice, etc. all detract from the phone interview.

    Also, this is something that I noticed that only women do- they end their sentences with a higher pitch in their voice during interviews. Try to go over the interview in your mind to see if you did that (a lot of times it's involutary and you don't even know it).

    By ending your sentence at the same note rather than a higher one, you seem more sincrere, determined, and confident. The higher pitch makes it seem like you're asking a question, eager to please, desperate, or just providing the answer that you think they are looking for.
  13. Hi Lori,

    Actually, I already got a rejection email, pretty much first thing this morning and I just interviewed on Monday afternoon! So I am really bummed because this is one of those rare opportunities for which I would've happily left my current job. Otherwise, I'm happy where I am.

    I wonder if I did leave a strange taste in her mouth regarding my work habits. I currently work 60-80 hours a week so obviously I have no problem with long hours. I never really outright stated that. The magazine was more a matter of money and commitment (i.e. an unwillingness to fly some random place to accomplish a totally random task and miss my actual paying job). I was a bit foolish when I took on the internship, which of course I admitted since the question was "What did you not see through?" I mean, how can your answer be anything but something to use against you?

    Thanks again for all your advice and please keep it coming if you have anything more to recommend. Are there are excellent firms that aren't so well-known you would recommend? Of course there's the big guys like Ogilvy, Ruder-Finn, etc.
  14. Demosthenes, thanks very much for your response. I think I DID sound cocky which I need to learn how not to, even when asked questions that seem geared only to make you expound on how wonderful you are -- it's not a matter of what I THINK of myself rather than the questions I felt was I being asked. Being asked questions like "What's your proudest accomplishment" "What's your strength" "What did you work really hard for" seem like questions that only allow a person to toot their own horn. But I'm obviously not answering them correctly since other people do just fine and I don't!

    I agree with you, something about my voice doesn't match who I actually am. I did stutter during the interview and I obviously don't sound very nice! The weird thing is that my current boss has me doing the phone recordings in my office because he says he loves my voice. LOL Can't win them all, though...
  15. It's a trick question. A good example of what they are looking for is:

    "I try to follow through with all of my projects, because it gives me a sense of accomplishment and finality, but of course, I know that there are times when I need to pass a project onto someone else after prioritizing my deadlines.

    For example, I was running a large ad campaign for Chanel, and after meeting with their reps, we decided to bump up our schedule, which gave me less time to focus on my campaign for Ms. Richard's, a smaller family restaurant chain.

    I decided to pass the Ms. Richard's account to another associate, to insure that both projects met their deadlines, and maintained the high standards my firm has come to expect from me."

    I just made that up, so your situations will probably be totally different, but they really want you to spin it in a positive way, and see how you deal with failure or setbacks.