I discovered the following article in the U.S. News and World Report Money section written by Hannah Morgan. This article has incredible relevance and struck such a cord with me that I felt this information needs to be shared.
Avoid talking in a public place, skimping on research and messing up your introduction.
Has this scenario ever happened to you? Unexpectedly your phone rings. A recruiter calls from a company to whom you had supposedly applied, however you didn’t catch the company name or the job title. Unfortunately this situation is common. How you handle this scenario may determine whether you move on to the next step in the interview process.
If you are new to job searching, there are hundreds of situations like this you haven’t experienced before. To help get you up to speed faster, here are some phone interview scenarios you need to know how to handle.
1. “What job is this again?” The possibility that you have every job to which you have interviewed at the forefront of your mind may be low. When you’re actively seeking a job the reality is you’ve applied for numerous positions. The responsibility lies with the job-seeker to be able to track and reference the jobs that have applied to by job title and company. You have to think like a recruiter. From a recruiter’s perspective the job the recruiter’s firm represents is the only job to which you have applied. If the recruiter does not provide you with the information that you require, don’t hesitate to ask for more information or to clarify details associated with the job. You may ask the recruiter what company the recruiter represents and to describe the job further.
2. Do your best to avoid phone interviews while you are on the road or in public. You need to be aware that any call you receive could be from a potential employer. If you answer a call while on the road or in public from a potential employer, ask if you may reschedule the call for a different time. This condition is definitely understandable if the time is not optimal. You only get one chance to make a first impression. If you intend to have a phone interview from your cell, insure there will be no distractions and that you have access to your files with the job posting and the resume you used to apply.
3. Not knowing the interview format. Do you know if the recruiter will conduct the interview via phone or video? Do you know how long your conversation is scheduled to last? There is no normal set of guidelines for interviews today. Each company has a unique approach, so it is up to you to ask questions in order to know what to expect. You should collect these details to ensure that you’re fully prepared and perform your best during the interview.
4. Missing the point of your introduction. How you respond to “Tell me about yourself” can make or break the interview. This question is technically the interviewer’s way of asking why you are qualified for the job and a match for the company. Utilize information from your research to match your top two to four qualifications with the job requirements. Another key factor is to articulate why you are specifically interested in the role and/or company. Be aware that this is just an introduction therefore keep your answer to approximately a minute. In other words, don’t overwhelm the interviewer.
5. If you uncover undesirable qualities of the company, do not address these qualities directly. The best way to address information of this nature is to pose a question such as, “Tell me about one of your best employees and how you supported that employees’ development?”
6. Not knowing your salary range. Expect an employer to ask how much you made in your last job and how much you would like to make in the job for which you are applying. These are two different questions and help the company assess if you fit within the company’s budget and what your value is. Stating a number too high or too low could eliminate you prematurely. To prevent this from happening, use salary calculators and industry contacts to determine what the company may offer. You could even ask what the company budgeted for the role, rather than providing your answer. If you discover that your past salary and expected salary are in line with your research findings, you may choose to state a salary range. However, if your past salary or expected salary is not close to what the company is offering, you are better off deferring your salary answer until later in the conversation once you have a better understanding of the job requirements.
7. Not addressing lacking qualifications. It is unlikely that you’ll have everything the company wants. Prepare an explanation for how you will come up to speed in the areas where you fall short. For example, if you don’t have specific software experience, you should at least know how the software is used. Talk with someone who uses the software and find out if the software is similar to anything you have used before, how difficult it is to master and where you can get training. When asked about your software skills, address how you intend to come up to speed on the software you are missing. The same logic applies to any skill or experience you are lacking. Speak with someone who is knowledgeable, and then lay out a plan on how you would bridge the skill gap. If the interviewer doesn’t address the gap, you may provide your skill gap solution anyway. The reasoning is you don’t want to leave any issues unaddressed that may eliminate you from the running.