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Thread: Telephone Interviews

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Telephone Interviews

    I've never had a telephone interview before. What sorts of things do they usually ask you over the phone? Would I be wise to stay home that day or sneak out for a few minutes with the cell phone?

    Do I have to wear a suit?

    Somehow I'm more nervous for this than for a real interview. Oh, yeah, I guess its because this is the first "far away" job I've applied to out of desperation and I'm not sure if I really want to follow through.

  2. #2
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Had one, a long time ago....did it from my hotel in San Diego while I was at the APA conference.

    Same general questions I would have expected to be asked in a face to face interview.....harder to do, IMHO, because you can't see the reactions to your responses.
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  3. #3
    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop
    Do I have to wear a suit?
    Only if you want to. I have done a few telephone interviews, I wore a suite for one and did one naked.

    The only recommendations I can offer is have some water handy because my mouth tends to get dryer when I talk on the phone and talk in a location where you will not have any interuptions, and have copies of all the material they have on you in front of you so you can answer their specific questions with out having to say "wait I need to find that".

    I did one interview when I was just getting out of college and my roommate walked in and started talking to me. I got all distracted and had to ask the interviewer to repeat the question.

    Prepare as if it were an inperson interview, the questions they asked me were generally the same. Also, unless you have great cellphone coverage a land line is better. It will eliminate and possibilities of being cut off or other problems.

    That is my 0.02$ Good luck

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Planner Groupie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop
    Oh, yeah, I guess its because this is the first "far away" job I've applied to out of desperation and I'm not sure if I really want to follow through.
    You aren't making a commitment to take the job. It's just an interview and if you decide it's not something you want to go after, then you can just thank them for giving you the opportunity and for their time, but no thank you. Just be yourself and answer the questions to the best of your ability. I think most employers look for that rather then you trying to impress them. Good Luck!!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I hate telephone interviews! I don't like phones and besides, there is so much non-verbal communication that simply gets lost. I had one telephone interview where I completely mis-interpreted a question because the person asking it couldn't state it clearly. Ironically, it was about communication. I couldn't watch their reactions, and despite asking her to repeat the question, couldn't make sense of it.

    First, unless you have a private office and can make sure you won't be disturbed, do it from home. Ask for it to be scheduled early morning or late afternoon (whatever is easier given the time zones), and take a half day off. Next, surround yourself with reference material that will help you to think when they ask questions. If you anticipate that they may ask you about your experience in environmental review, for instance, have a couple EIS's in front of you and use them to jog your memory during the conversation. That, at least, can work to your advantage. More than in face-to-face interviews, I find it helpful to jot down questions and thoughts during a phone conversation. This helps me to rmember what I want to say.

    The telephone interview is usually a second screening mechanism. They used resumes to weed out the weak ones, and are probably using the telephone interview to select a small number of finalists. I always view it as an opportunity to find out more about the job and the employer, and try not to get into specifics of salary and the like. Remember that they can't see you. Verbalize your interest and enthusiasm (but don't over-do it).
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Having done my fair share this year here are my suggestions.

    1) Good telephone and telephone line is important. Nothing sucks worse then not being able to hear them.

    2) Speak slowly and clearly.

    3) Leave a good pause after they finish the question, to make sure they have finished the question.

    4) The questions will be pretty much the same as "normal interviews"

    5) Have them send you a copy of the job description or anything else they want you to have.

    6) Don't feel like you have to fill the air, remember they are taking notes and may need a bit of time. Silence is ok.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  7. #7
    Good luck with the interview -- if nothing else it is good practice.

    1) Land line, no cell phone unless you have absolutely sterling reception.

    2) Someplace private, best if it is an environment you control (you'll be calmer).

    3) Wear whatever you like that you will be comfortable in.

    I agree with Cardinal: I hate phone interviews.
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  8. #8
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    I took a video interview once... talk about things that suck.

    Some lame college kid they hired read the questions, and I had to answer them in front of the camera. Never again...
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I am 2 for 2 with Phone Interviews… the first one I did in a pair of boxers, in the kitchen on a landline (I took the morning off) (Unlike some 900 numbers I don’t think that they will ask you what you are wearing). The second was I went out onto the roof of the last city I was working for with my personal cell phone and used up my lunchtime, and then some.

    I am going to go out on a limb and say that if your cell works great and is clear… don’t worry about having a landline. I feel more comfortable when I am speaking in that type of situation if I can move around a little bit, and a cell phone gave me a lot more freedom. I think that people can sense energy from moving around over the phone, and it shows that you’re the type that can interact with others.

    Another tip would be have your normal interview materiel in front of you, (such as your resume, the job description, and make an outline to explain what you have done, and how it could interact with the position.

    I would also agree with the glass of water or milk…

    Finally, have fun, do not be afraid to interact with the interviewer, also ask a lot of questions about the working environment, other employees, the area, and try to get a feeling from the interviewers enjoy living there. Just remember that interviews are also trying to get you to want the job. I try to think of an interview also a chance to interviewing them, the job, and the city. They have a lot more to deal with to sell you the job.
    Last edited by michaelskis; 29 Jan 2004 at 2:37 PM.
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I haven't been the "interviewee" but have interviewed prospective employees in phone interviews. Be prepared for the possibility of multiple interviewers with a speaker-phone on their end.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    One of the good things about phone interviews is that once the formalities are over, like introductions and "So, why are you interested in this job?", they can be a bit more relaxed than face-to-face interviews. I had one once (and got the job), and once the standards were asked, the interviewer sort of acknowledged the oddness of the phone interview. It was just some question like "So are you glad you didn't have to come out in this weather" or something, but it broke the ice and we were able to speak more conversationally then. It can allow your personality to come across more clearly than in regular interviews, even though there's no actual physical interaction.
    But having said all that, they are kind of uncomfortable.
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  12. #12
    I did a phone interview for an out of state job (1 in-person interview too) and ended up getting offered the job ( I declined). It was pretty straightforward and boring. I felt strange asking questions of them...kind of like you are keeping them on the phone for longer

    It is kind of difficult because you don't have much non-work stuff to talk about as an ice breaker. For example, I have a friend who fishes in Canada. He saw a picture of the interviewer holding up a fish in what appeared to be Canada. He asked about the picture and they ended up talking about Canadian fishing for about 20 minutes before the interview officially started and said it made it a lot more comfortable.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian FueledByRamen's avatar
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    I've never been interviewed over the phone, but I was on a Pastor Nominating Comitee here at my church in Austin. It was a seven member comittee and we would recieve Personal Information Forms (like a resume, but more in depth in the person's social and spiritual life). We would set up a one hour phone interview if we were interested and then would offer to fly the person down (or pay for gas, whatever) and have a real-life interview and have them preach a prepared sermon.

    So let me give you a few bits of advice:

    1. Test out your phone. Call people (preferably far away if you can) and make sure that you can easily hear them and they can hear you.

    2. If the interviewers are looking at multiple candidates, they will have their quetions down pat. You should think about what they will probably ask you and make a bullet list of your points in response. Practice responding to the questions.

    3. Be quiet. If you must have notes and reference material around you, don't shuffle them around, it is very obvious on the other end, plus you don't want to sound like you are reading from a card.

    4. Silence might mean they are taking notes, but if it is a multiple Interviewer set up...that usually means they are waiting for you to say something.

    5. If you are one of those people that MUST pause for a few seconds after being asked a question (I dont know why people doe this) make some sort of indication that you are still on the line. We did one interview where we kept thinking the line had been lost because the guy waited about 15 seconds before answering a question.

    Those are just a few ideas....what will get you the job though is being a clear, conversational speaker. Make sure you do not sound like you are reading from notes or are distracted. They won't hire you if you sound like the MoviePhone guy...

    Adam

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    I've also had phone interviews and not found them too awkward. Once you get past the initial few minutes and try to develop a slight rappport with the person, it's not too bad. At least if you get a bad feeling about the interviewer or the job itself you didn't go too far out of your way for it. Good luck, Seabishop!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    I have done one tele-conference interview - I had to speak to I think 4 people at once. I was more nervous than with a face-to-face interview because as NHP says, it's a little difficult when you can't see their reactions. I stayed home from work to give myself a bit of prep time and banished my flatmates, and sat on my bed using the cordless landline, with all the relevant documents spread around me for quick reference!

    The interview team were quite accommodating in that they acknowledged that phone interviews can be a little difficult, and they started by introducing themselves, and said it was fine if I needed them to repeat questions or take a bit of time before responding.

    I had the added difficulty of interpreting Aussie accents eh Rem

    So I was more nervous than usual, but afterwards I thought it had been okay.
    In some ways its easier, such as being able to have documents with you for reference, and you are not judged on appearance.

    Definitely do what you can to minimise distractions.

    All the best!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNL
    I had the added difficulty of interpreting Aussie accents eh Rem .....
    Do you want the tapes back or are you happy to buy a copy? They're available for ordering from our website.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Rem
    Do you want the tapes back or are you happy to buy a copy? They're available for ordering from our website.
    You are mean!

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNL
    You are mean!
    True but it's not as if I didn't warn you.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Thanks for the advice!

    Planner Groupie Said:
    You aren't making a commitment to take the job. It's just an interview and if you decide it's not something you want to go after, then you can just thank them for giving you the opportunity and for their time, but no thank you.
    Yeah, that'll have to be my outlook. And this will be practice for a real interview later that week.

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