How to do preparation for Telephone Interview

Posted on 6th Jun 2013 08:28:35 in Career,Skill

When pursuing a career change opportunity or military career transition this telephone interview preparation checklist will ensure you are prepared to maximize the limited time available to your benefit when invited to a telephone interview. Remember, no second chance to make a first impression, especially in a telephone interview!

This is a framework checklist so make it your own, add and augment as you see fit.

Many of these points will seem obvious but surprisingly, majority of people involved in an interview processes either forget or ignore these fundamentals for a multitude of reasons (excuses) but regardless, like everything else in life,Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail!  Being prepared can make the difference between meeting expectations and exceeded expectations. Or worse, not even meeting expectations by appearing, and then proving yourself, unprepared!

Before jumping into the checklist, always make sure your LinkedIn profile and submitted resume are at their best and synchronized per employer history dates, titles/ranks, duties & responsibilities, accomplishments & achievements, certifications, etc., prior to formal interview. Also, make sure your LinkedIn Profile picture is professional.

  • Research company: know their products/services, notable press releases/current events - company performance/industry ranking - recent acquisitions/mergers, philanthropic programs, etc.  Many experienced corporate recruiters and hiring authorities are quizzing prospective candidates about what you know per their company.  Having this knowledge during an interview impresses hiring authorities because one, far too many candidates don’t take the time to do this prep and two, shows you are taking the interview seriously and have invested time in preparing instead of just winging it through interview.  
  • Research hiring authority(s): via LinkedIn research career history and progression, major accomplishments/achievements, education, posts, shared LinkedIn connections and groups.
  • Know your resume – Know the job posting details: have these documents printed and in front of you for quick reference during interview should you need it with respective notes and questions.
  • Have bullet point list of career / military service achievements & accomplishments – not just duties and responsibilities.  Have 7-10 written down but highlight top 3-5 to ensure those are shared. By presenting and talking about quantifiable / qualifiable accomplishments and achievements you are inherently confirming duties & responsibilities while presenting yourself as a professional that accomplishes goals and exceeds expectations. Whether or not you bring these up you can expect at some stage to be asked direct questions about your career accomplishments and achievements.
  • Tell me about yourself” Question. This is your opportunity to shine and brag to a captive audience. Many call this the elevator speech but this is different – you now exactly to whom and why you are talking to this person and not a stranger in an elevator. Keep it professional and have your answer already prepared and written down relative to the specific career opportunity you are interviewing. Recommend you keep it to a 2-3 minute targeted presentation.
  • Be prepared to create a bridge between your capabilities/skills and the hiring authority(s) needs and goals of position.  Remember, open/vacant positions are a problem for employers – you are the potential solution to that problem and must to treat interviews as such by employing Solution Selling techniques when possible.
  • Why are you interested in this opportunity/position with our organization?" Be prepared to answer this question. Hiring authorities are looking for a clear, honest, concise and confident answer.
  • Have questions per career opportunity and company prepared before interview and written out. Have intelligent and pertinent probing questions prepared per the career opportunity, company, group/division per position, and specific questions such as goals and expectations for new hire. This is where far too many interviewers fail to impress – unprepared candidates either have no questions at all or they wing it with generic ‘on the fly’ questions that are meaningless per detailed probing of the career opportunity.
  • What are your compensation expectations?” and/or salary negotiations during first telephone interview is a waste of time.Confirming current compensation is certainly acceptable during telephone interviews to ensure you are within the acceptable hiring range per compensation bandwidth but not negotiating compensation expectations. During initial telephone interviews, every minute counts for both the prospective candidate and interviewer to determine mutual interest to advance process to next stage. If you get the loaded “what are your compensation expectations” question use this proven reply to get the interview back on track and avoid inappropriate compensation negotiations at this stage – “Mr/Ms hiring authority, my current compensation package is ______. Obviously, we are at the initial stages of the interview process but should this process advance and we both believe this is the best match for all parties involved, I am sure you and ______ (company name) will extend and fair and reasonable offer.” And then shut up! Let silence works its magic. The first person to talk, loses. 99% of the time the hiring authority will accept that answer and allow both of you to get back to what is important at this stage, interviewing. Use the reply above and make it your own but there is NO right answer to this loaded question. More on this in future postings.
  • You are interviewing them as well. Remember, you are interviewing the hiring authority(s)/company and evaluating “best fit” per career opportunity as much as they are interviewing you per qualifications.
  • Speak clearly, confidently and concisely. Conduct telephone interview in a quite place, no background noise, provide direct answers to direct questions, be professional, have all materials laid out and easy to reference if needed. If you are like me, when I get excited I talk fast, so watch your tempo. Finally, if using cell phone – absolutely make sure cell phone connection is reliable and clear. Nothing more frustrating than conducting interview with poor cell phone connection on candidate’s side. Let your personality come through but stay cool and even keel.
  • Like what you hear – Say So! At the conclusion of your telephone interview, if you like what you have heard and believe you are qualified for the position, express that to the hiring authority and tell them you are interested in taking the next appropriate step(s).
  • Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.  Can never reinforce this enough.

I mention writing out many things and that is because something magical happens when you write out and review answers and presentations instead of just making post-it and mental notes. Write – Refine – Practice.  No one expects you to recite these verbatim during interviews but you have the essential framework and can adapt and customize them as needed with hiring authorities.