Summary of Preparation Suggestions
- Physical Location
- Mobile phone/devices
- Avoiding interruptions and distractions
- Your Resume
- Job Description
- Your example and notes
- Reasons for looking for a new position
- Reasons for accepting and leaving previous positions
- Your resume (again)
- Your questions
Make sure the physical location you will be on the phone at is conducive to having a quiet and uninterrupted phone conversation so both you and the interviewer can have a fluid and focused dialogue.
- If you plan on conducting your phone interview on a mobile phone/device please make sure your connection is strong and will remain strong throughout the interview—it’s very difficult to have a successful phone interview if the interviewer has difficulty hearing your responses
- If your connection is weak, offer to call the interviewer back from a land-line with a clear connection.
- Resist the temptation to answer/respond to phone calls, texts…during your phone interview: shutoff your mobile phone/device (or at least shutoff the ringer and put it on vibrate)
- Don’t retrieve/send email messages from your computer, blackberry or PDA while engaged in the phone call (more-often-than-not people can hear you tapping away).
- Do not place the interviewer on hold to answer another phone call. Unless you have to move to a secure and private place.
If available, have a copy of their job description/posting to refer to as a necessary during your phone conversation. Job posting/descriptions are a company’s way of describing their needs. You want to fulfill those needs, use it as a roadmap of what you should talk about.
Have your physical notes detailing and describing examples of your relevant qualifications, i.e. experiences, accomplishments… that specifically speak to the position’s responsibilities/expectations and requirements (refer to the job description to help you prepare your notes and examples) by the phone so that you can readily access and refer to them quickly and easily as necessary.
- Jot down your notes regarding questions raised by the interviewer about your skills, experiences, accomplishments to help you prepare your responses and help you prepare better for (hopefully) subsequent in-person interviews.
- Jot down points you might want to raise later in the phone conversation with the interviewer that offer some new information you’ve learned from conversing with the interviewer (e.g. examples of your relevant accomplishments you might want to raise, additional questions you have, notes on the interviewer…)
- Be ready to discuss why you believe it’s best for you to look for a new position now, with the emphasis being on career advancement and career fulfillment reasons.
- Avoid making any negative comments about your employer, boss, peers…(more often than not, any negative comments you make reflect more negatively upon you.
- Be ready to discuss why you accepted your past positions, and why you left them.
- Once again, focus on career advancement and career fulfillment reasons. And, avoid making any negative comments about your past employer, boss, peers.
- Company information:be ready to briefly describe your present, and past too, company’s business (company focus, size, recent news, etc)
- Organizational information:Be ready to discuss where your department/functional area fit into the overall organizational structure of the company, and be ready to discuss your reporting relationships too (i.e. who you report to, and who reported to you (title not name), who you interact/interacted with on a regular basis (titles)
- Responsibilities: What are/were your major responsibilities, what occupied your time day-to-day (for each position held) – be specific and have examples to share with them to support/explain your responses
- Reasons for leaving each position (focus on career advancement/development, not past and current employers dirty laundry)
- Reasons for leaving each position (focus on career advancement/development reasons)
- Reasons for accepting each position (focus on career advancement/development reasons)
- Dates (month and year you started and ended in each position you’ve held, and the same for each employer you’ve worked for)
- Most Important – prepare (i.e. write down) specific examples you can use to better explain, clarify, support and bring-to-life your unique combination of responsibilities, skills, experiences and accomplishments—this will help you to better present your unique qualities and distinguish you form all of the other candidates competing for the position.
If they offer you an opportunity to ask questions about the position make sure you prioritize what questions you ask to maximize your opportunity to learn as much as you can about the position’s responsibilities, expectations, deliverables, and requirements (why? Most interviewers initially set aside only a short amount of time for a phone interview—you want to learn as much as you can as quickly as you can, this will help you to evaluate the fit for yourself and this will also help you to select what skills, experiences, and accomplishments you want to offer/discuss/emphasize with them in the limited time you have to speak with them vs. spraying information around about yourself with the hope you hit the target with some of the information you’re offering up).
Focus your energies on learning more about.
- What they want this position to immediately address/accomplish (i.e. over the first 3 to 6/9 months)
- What is not being done now that they need/want or must be done by this position
- Focus on learning/understanding what skills, experiences and past accomplishments they believe are necessary for someone to be considered as a qualified candidate for this position.
The more and better information you can obtain directly from the decision maker you will be speaking with vs. me, a job description, your assumptions…regarding what needs to be done and what he/she believes are the best skills/experiences/accomplishments for someone to have—the easier it will be for you to determine/select what you should be sharing and emphasizing with him/her about your skills, experiences and accomplishments that are relevant and match his/.her desires in the brief amount of time you have to speak with him/her (i.e. take calculated aim, I.e. use a rifle approach vs. a shotgun approach (i.e. spraying a lot of information hoping something hits the target)).