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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.


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