Author Topic: Phone Interview questions  (Read 663 times)

dragonwalker

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Phone Interview questions
« on: August 08, 2018, 08:26:57 PM »
I'm going to be having a phone interview tomorrow and I've been trying to prepare myself. I have several colleagues who gave me a heads up what the likely questions might be and I'm working on responses and practicing them so they don't sound scripted. I've read and watched some basic tips on what I should and should not say and how to do it.

I've been with my current company for the past 8 years since I graduated college so this could potentially be a big change. Ofcourse I'm making sure I address your typical interview topics.

What stood out a few times reading the job requirements was about reliability. This got me thinking and I know it's a little petty but I'm kind of proud that in my life so far (I'm 30) and in fact in every job I've had so far I've never needed to call out sick except for leaving once 2 hours early when a family member died on a Friday but I was back to work on Monday. I've been fortunate that so far in my working career I haven't been sick or felt that it was really necessary enough to lie to take a day off.

In this day and age when I see people all around me at work maximizing and exceeding their sick days for their own reasons (not health related) or going further and going on LOA (leave of absense) for medical/personal reasons I'm glad that I haven't needed to resort to that. It's not that I am personally against it but again I've never yet felt it was necessary. I think it has benefited me not to have done this as I hear resentment from others about those who do take these kinds of breaks.   

Also I've read either right or wrong that some employers attempt to find out if you have a family (working on the assumption that a family of your own might imply less reliability due to conflicting commitments). I know it's improper for employers to base their decsisions on this information but seeing as I am a younger single male without children I thought it may be to my advantage to subtly or not leverage this information.   

I don't know if it's worth somehow bringing these topics up and if so how? Like should I try as just a passing remark or be more deliberate about it without presenting this poorly?


Any other advise people have for a phone interview? 
« Last Edit: August 08, 2018, 08:30:27 PM by dragonwalker »

Systems101

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Re: Phone Interview questions
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2018, 09:00:05 PM »
I would generally recommend avoiding the topic of your marital status. 

Some employers may feel they can work their single employees into the ground with long hours; others realize working smarter not longer matters... a lot.  Meaning, it can cut both ways.  See:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/04/02/dont-be-a-bachelor-why-married-men-work-harder-and-smarter-and-make-more-money/

If you stretched to bring it up, it would raise red flags for me that you don't know the unwritten rules of interviewing (which is those topics are to be avoided).

Having said that, if something comes up naturally, that's fine.  I don't do outbound phone interviews, but I am on the interview team when someone interviewing for my organization comes in for their on-site day.  When I interview in person my first question is "Tell me something I should know about you that isn't on your resume".  That stumps some people (yellow flag - no life outside work?). Many have stellar answers.  I've learned people do marquetry and some other really cool factoids about passions people have outside work.  One (we hired him - now a colleague at work) responded with "I work for my family... blah, blah".  Clear, concise, well founded reasoning.  How he answered that question was critical.  The content was irrelevant, albeit mentioning his family.  Now having worked with him for a while, great guy, great work, and it's unquestionably his perspective on the world.

As far as the reliability part, find a story at work that demonstrates reliability.  Have you been in a position where management gave you 8 days of work on two high profile projects to do in 3 days?  Did you clearly communicate the intractable nature of the problem as soon as you knew?  See if a question comes up where you can tell that story about the communication and how both projects were successful.  This demonstrates (a) you took on what you could and fulfilled that commitment [a form of reliability] (b) communicated early when something was amiss [allowing the work to be sent to someone else so your manager could appear reliable to their boss] (c) Have the best interests of the company in mind and can think beyond the next day.  This seems small, but I'm consistently amazed by the number of people I work with who just ignore requests because they are busy.

Other advice? Have questions ready for them, and those questions should be based on who you are talking to.  HR types, ask about culture, why the job was posted, what surprises new hires to the company.  If it's the manager, ask direct things about the job and how to be successful - tools, how employee measurement works, what is the top thing to do in the first 30 days, etc.

StetsTerhune

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Re: Phone Interview questions
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2018, 08:26:04 AM »
My standard interview advice, having both interviewed and been interviewed many times:

Everyone you talk to really wants you to be the person they hire. The HR people because they're just going to be judged on how smoothly the process goes. The hiring manager because looking for someone to hire sucks and they want it to be over. If you walk in there (or call them up) and act like you're qualified and don't give them any specific reason not to, they will hire you.

Obviously this can't be taken too far, because "didn't say anything of any substance" is a specific reason not to hire you also. Mostly this advice is just meant for your attitude: you have nothing to worry about, because everyone's interests are aligned and everyone just wants to hire you.

Scortius

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Re: Phone Interview questions
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2018, 02:08:33 PM »
I think you're overvaluing the lack of sick leave taken. Sick leave exists for a reason, you don't want contagious employees coming into work. We've had problems in my workplace where people think they need to be reliable and then two weeks later the entire office is out with the flu. So much for helping the company by working through minor symptoms. Sick leave is part of your defined benefit package... take it when you need to.

The same with the family comment. Having a family could be a good thing too. You're less likely to move, more likely to buy a house and require the stability that a salaried position will give you. In general I think you're way too focused on minor details that barely matter.

Honestly, the only thing that really matters is 1) can you be trusted to get your job done without hand-holding, and 2) are you someone other people like to work with? An extra day or two on the job over the course of a year due to gutting it out when you're feeling a bit off is absolutely nothing compared to being a self-sufficient worker who can be trusted to take care of your business. That's what they mean by reliability, and if you mention your sick leave policy you'll be doing yourself a disservice.

So, when given the opportunity, be prepared to talk about the times you've been given a difficult task and have found ways to accomplish it without the need of constant supervision. Show them that they can feel safe in paying you your salary with the knowledge that they can trust you to get your job done.

thd7t

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Re: Phone Interview questions
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2018, 06:35:40 AM »
StetsTerhune's advice is solid.  Let the interviewer lead.  They know what they want and they'll give lots of cues and pretty much feed you the answers that they want if you listen well.

Forget your sick leave.  Attendance awards are for elementary school.  Don't mention that you don't have a family unless asked.  They might think you're not well adjusted or bad at commitment.

ender

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Re: Phone Interview questions
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2018, 06:39:32 AM »
I definitely wouldn't mention the sick leave thing.

From someone with 8 years of experience, I'd interpret that as, "I have no problems coming into the office with a bad cold/flu/etc" rather than "your body doesn't get sick."


Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Phone Interview questions
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2018, 07:50:26 AM »
StetsTerhune's advice is solid.  Let the interviewer lead.  They know what they want and they'll give lots of cues and pretty much feed you the answers that they want if you listen well.

Forget your sick leave.  Attendance awards are for elementary school.  Don't mention that you don't have a family unless asked.  They might think you're not well adjusted or bad at commitment.

Agreed with everyone regarding the sick leave thing. Also, don't overlook the fact that some employers (especially older men, in my experience) like having "family men" on staff, because they feel like they're more likely to remain loyal (i.e., put up with more bullshit) because they're less likely to be able to leave easily. Bottom line: forget about the sick leave/family status stuff and focus on actual personal skills and strengths.

LennStar

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Re: Phone Interview questions
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2018, 01:17:58 PM »
When I interview in person my first question is "Tell me something I should know about you that isn't on your resume".  That stumps some people (yellow flag - no life outside work?).

I would be stumped because: Why the hell does he want to know that has nothing to do with the work, and which has to be of no interest to him?

Papa bear

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Re: Phone Interview questions
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2018, 07:17:17 PM »
Just some general advice because phone interviews can be tricky.

Make sure you answer the phone professionally, as in "hello this is X". Not "hey," "what's up," "who this," "stop spamming me!" Etc. And take all phone calls in the 30 minutes before or after the call is to start.  I know there are a lot of spam calls going around, so be prepared if they call early or late. Don't expect the random number to be another call about your credit.

Make sure you are in a quiet area with little to no background noise. Kids, dogs, cars, outside lawn equipment can all be detrimental and a distraction.

Make sure you build in brief stopping points when giving an answer.  You need to give the interviewer the chance to interject if they need clarification or if they want to move on. You may be too wordy or they may want to hear more. Interjections are much easier in person so you have to cognitively think about this for the phone call.

You will talk over each other at some point. Let the interviewer continue unless they explicitly tell you to go ahead.

Let the interviewer lead!  You most likely aren't getting an offer after a phone call. There will be plenty of time for additional questions and banter if you get to the in person or video interview.




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