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Telephone Interview Questions

Telephone interviews are generally conducted when there is a high volume of applicants for a given job, and the employer would like to find out who is suitable for an interview before arranging times and dates which can be more time consuming. The interview questions will be along the same lines as a face-to-face interview so it is a good idea to keep your CV and covering letter to hand, so as to not have any discrepancies between the information you have previously supplied and what you will now be talking about. It is important to be prepared for a telephone interview, particularly when doing a large job hunt, as they can come unexpectedly. Going through some of the questions you may be asked, and having a response for each one is a good idea; and it is important to pick out key words in the questions they ask, as they may be the same as ones you have practised, but simply phrased differently.

There are many questions that can leave an applicant searching for an answer, a few include:

  • Why would you like to work for this company?
  • What were your reasons for leaving your past job?
  • What can you bring to the company?

Most of these, and many others, can be answered by doing thorough research of the company you are applying to. In researching a company, you may find specific areas of interest to yourself, which would definitely help in answering why you would like to work for them; the same goes for the question, “What can you bring to the Company?”. Many people have to pause before being able to answer this, but if you have researched the company you will know any things they do that may lend themselves to your skills. Another problem area is how to answer the question of why you left your last job, or are looking to leave your current position; answer this truthfully, but without bad-mouthing your previous employer.

There will usually be time at the end of the telephone interview for you to ask any questions you may have; use this chance as it can alleviate any concerns you have, whilst most importantly, making you seem interested and professional to the interviewer. Asking questions such as, “What would my day be like if I got the job role?”, and, “What do you enjoy about working at the company?”, are acceptable questions to ask, showing you are thinking of how you would fit into the company. There are, however, questions which should be left out entirely, or at least until you have been successful in getting the job, such as asking if you would be able to take holiday on certain dates, and asking what the company does. Not only does this show you have not researched the company thoroughly, the former is also presumptive, and will lessen your chances of success as you are already talking of time off. There is also the mistake of straight away asking, “Did I get the job?”, the interviewer may have many more people to interview and so it is better to ask, instead, of when you will be finding out if you were successful or not.

Although some may be unexpected, many telephone interviews are arranged prior between interviewer and candidate. It is helpful to note, also, that if the telephone interview has come at an inconvenient time it is OK to politely ask if you can reschedule to later on that day, or another time. Most telephone interviews will last no longer than half an hour, and the interviewer will want to ask you about your CV, and to go into detail about certain areas of it, your work experience, and also competency questions. You must also be aware that the way you conduct yourself on the telephone is also part of the interview; most jobs will require you to talk to various people over the phone, and so showing you have a calm, professional, and polite telephone manner is crucial.

Lastly, it is important to remember that although it is over the phone and may seem less formal, telephone interviews are as important as face-to-face interviews. You should answer the telephone with the kind of manner you would enter a normal interview, as it can be these first impressions by the interviewer that may trip you up. If you are not used to using the telephone in a professional manner it can be easy to slip into slang, and the unenthusiastic way you may talk to friends on the phone. Try to remain enthusiastic whilst on the phone, the way you hold yourself physically could influence how you speak to the interviewer, they do not want to interview a candidate who mumbles their way through the questions, or seems disengaged.


PWC Partner Interview

A partner interview is, as the name would suggest, an interview with one of the partners at the company you have applied to. At this stage in the recruitment process you will normally have been successful in the first interview and assessment day, and are now being assessed as to whether your personality would be suitable for their company. Due to this, the questions asked at a partner interview will not usually be predetermined, but rather, based around you. As with any interview you should be polite, friendly and confident; the prospective employer has your credentials, you are now showing that you would fit in well with the team they already employ. It is important to be yourself here; the interviewer will have conducted many interviews before yours, and can pick out someone who is faking their responses to come across well.

Some questions based around you could include:

  • “Tell me about your internship, with reference to any highlights or achievements?”
  • “Why do you want to work for PWC above our competitors?”
  • “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
  • “What drove you to get into this sector of business?”

A lot of candidates in the PWC recruitment process have found that their partner interview also consisted of a lot of competency questions. PWC places a lot of importance on the competencies it requires in its employees, and so these are tested thoroughly throughout the recruitment process. Some examples of competency questions (which are explained in an earlier section) include:

  • “Tell me about a time you have took the lead on a project”
  • “Describe a situation in which you have found a new solution on a project”
  • “When do you feel your part in a team helped to finish a task?”

The individual must draw on previous experience, whether that be at work, university, or in their social life, to demonstrate their ability in each competency. This is particularly suited to graduates as they may have little work experience to give their evidence on, but may have situations during education or other work to base their response.

A partner interview can vary in length from 45 minutes to just over 1 hour, depending mainly on how many questions you have for the interviewer at the end. It is important to keep the time in mind; there may be many interviews arranged for the day and so answering the questions they have asked, and not going too much off topic, will ensure you have given them all of the crucial information they want from you. Remember to dress smartly, as with first interviews, and the assessment centre, the way you look can have a bearing on interviewers decisions; they will not want to employ someone to uphold their company name who is scruffy or inappropriately dressed. Although getting this far in the recruitment process is an achievement and due to you having passed the previous stages, it is important not to become arrogant. There will still be other candidates competing with you at this level, and by presuming you have got your foot in the door already you could come across badly to the interviewer. There is no guarantee that the company will employ anyone from the pool of people they are interviewing, and you could still be out of the competition at this late stage if the prospective employer takes a dislike to you. At the end of the interview the interviewer should ask you if you have any questions; take this time to carefully go through anything that you do not understand that may have come up in the interview. Preparing yourself beforehand with some questions you would like to ask is the best option, as it can be easy to forget when you are under the stress of an interview. Questioning the interviewer on their own feelings about working for the company, or your future role in the company, will show that you are interested in the job. Not only does asking questions make you seem interested, it may actually be the last time you are going to get to ask these questions before you are hopefully offered a job; you need to go into work knowing what is expected of you, rather than being unprepared and looking unprofessional. Try to find out when you will be hearing back from the company on the success of your interview, but do not simply ask if you have gotten the job; and finally be polite when leaving, and thank them for their time, as you do not want to trip up this far into the recruitment.


Writing a CV

A CV, or Curriculum Vitae, is the standardised way to advertise yourself to prospective employers when job hunting, with your contact information, work & educational history, and a little about yourself all included. There are various ways to write out a CV between different countries and job type, this description will be focusing on the UK version of the CV.

The CV layout typically goes as follows:

  • Your name, and contact details, such as address, email and telephone; with your name being in larger font and making up the title of the document.
  • A brief personal statement, including your career aims, so that the prospective employer can get a feel for who you and set you apart from other candidates.
  • Your educational background; this should go in reverse order, with your most recent education at the top, as this is usually more relevant to the position you are applying for. Here you should include the dates attended, the institution you attended, qualifications & grades.
  • Your work history; again this should go from most recent at the top, to least recent at the bottom. Give the dates you worked, your position, the company name, and your duties here.
  • Interests/Skills (or both if you feel your interests relate to the job role).
  • References- it is best to state “references available on request” at the end of your CV as the employer will most likely not need them yet, so there is no need to give out others personal details just yet.

Some DO’s & DON’T’s of CV writing:

DO include any relevant experience that adds to your experience.

DO include your nationality with your contact details if you are non-British.

DO make any particular achievements stand out.

DO make the personal statement personalized, so that you stand out from the other applicants.

DO spell check, this is your first contact with prospective employers, spelling mistakes will not look good.

DO NOT put your date of birth or age on the CV; there are laws to stop age discrimination.

DO NOT go over two pages for a CV.

DO NOT include references unless they have previously given permission

DO NOT label/title your CV as “Curriculum Vitae”, it should hopefully be obvious to employers what the document is; similarly do not put unnecessary headings such as “address” above your address.

The CV is crucial to the employment process as it is the link between finding your ideal job and getting an interview. It can be hard to think of things to write if you are not used to writing in a professional manner, or have no experience in the area you are looking to apply for. Do not fill up your CV with any unnecessary experience; for example, if you are applying for an accountancy job it is not necessary to include the job you had as a waitress one summer (unless there were some transferable skills). The same goes for education; if you have recently graduated, briefly give some details of the modules you did that may have be relevant to the job role, and anything you were particularly proud of, such as a particular project. As the CV has to look professional, think of it as you would an assignment, and write in third person. Try to leave out words like “I”; although it must be personalized, do not make your CV into a life story, and remember it is to advertise your skills and experience to a prospective employer. Many people write out one default CV to send to the many different companies they may be applying to, however, it is better to go over your CV after you have found a job you would like to apply for and tailor it to that company. For example, if the prospective employer regards teamwork and cooperation as one of the key points in their organisation’s success, play-up any teamwork projects you have excelled at in university or past work experience.

Some people are unsure about the order in which the headings must go within their CV; they should be laid out as in the bullet-points shown earlier, however, work and educational history should be switched dependent on the experience you have. If you have very little experience in the job you are applying for (i.e. you are a recent university graduate), place your educational history before work experience, as the skills learnt whilst at university will probably be more relevant than the work experience you’ve gained. If you have a lot of work experience relevant to the job you are applying for, place the work history above education, as this will be noticed first and give you the best chance of being seen as suitable. It can also sometimes be difficult to fill in large gaps that you have between periods of work, so try to bridge these as much as possible, as it will be preferential to the employer to know what you have been doing when not working. As mentioned in the DO’s & DON’T’s section, try not to have more than two pages in your CV; two pages is the general rule-of-thumb with CV writing in the UK. It is best to avoid a large gap at the bottom of page, so if possible arrange your CV so that all information can fit onto one page, or try to spread it out to fit onto two pages.


UCL Finance Conference 2013


AssessmentDay are proud to support the UCL Finance Conference 2013 which takes place on 1st February 2013. The UCL Finance Conference is one of the largest student-led finance conferences in Europe. Students can join delegates from top universities and listen to key speakers from the finance industry.

Find out more by visiting their website