THE TELEPHONE INTERVIEW
More often than not - the first contact you will have with a potential
employer will be a telephone interview. Employers use the telephone
interview for several reasons:
- It saves time. An employer can spend one half hour to an hour
on the phone instead of 2 hours for an in person interview.
- The employer wants to be sure you have the skills to do a
certain job before paying for transportation and lodging to have you
visit his/her workplace.
You Have Three Main Objectives for this Call
- Give the employer enough information about your background so
that he/she knows you can do the job.
- Get enough information about the company so that you can decide
whether or not you are interested in the job.
- Finally - assuming you have an interest in this position, get a
face to face interview - no one was ever hired solely as the result of
a telephone interview! You must ASK to come in and meet with the team.
Before the Call
- Gather supporting material and have it ready by the phone
1) Your resume.
2) Any performance reviews you may have.
3) list of questions you would like to have answered.
4) MOST IMPORTANT - a list of the "keys to the job"
(see below) and your linkage to those keys - you should get this from
- Know your strengths and weaknesses: How will you answer the
question - What are your three strong points (why should I hire you?)
and what are your three weaknesses (why shouldn't I hire you?).
Rehearse your answers with your recruiter.
- Salary - Have your salary and expected salary review/raise date
- Have your schedule for the next few weeks in front of you. If
the interviewer wants to schedule a face to face interview you will
need to know when you are available.
- Choose a time/place away from kids - doorbells - barking dogs
or the UPS man.
Keys to the Position
These keys will be the things that the employer needs the most. For
examples, a recent position filled by High Tech Opportunities called
for a candidate to:
- Provide Technical Support for the entire ASIC Design Cycle -
Pre-sales to Sign off.
- Recommend technology, implementation, test strategy and
verification approach to customers.
- Perform engineering work (ASIC Design) as a service to
During the Call
- Call the interviewer by his/her first name - it establishes a
mutual level of respect.
- Be up for the call - whenever possible stand up! You will be
less nervous and sound more excited about the position.
- Keep the phone from direct contact with your mouth.
- Have your notes ready - but no script - maybe with one
exception to be covered later.
- You, the candidate, should be talking 80% of the time.
- After the introduction and small talk pull out the "keys to the
job" and address each one of them.
You would begin....
"John/Mary I understand you are looking for someone to
provide technical support to customers doing ASIC design! Let me tell
you what I've done in that area!"
After you have addressed each key - cross it out and go on
to the next one.
"I also understand you are looking for someone to recommend
technology implementation and test strategy to customers! For XYZ
After you have covered all the keys - it's your turn to ask the
One question that should always be asked is "John/Mary what is
your career background - how did you get to be a manager at XYZ
Another good question is "What needs to be done to make an
immediate impact at your company?"
Do Not Ask About:
- Working hours - on this call!
This is not the time. Hopefully your recruiter will have answered
those questions already. If asked what salary it would take to get you
to come to work for their company - Do not give a figure - it is too
early and you do not have enough information yet. Simply answer
"it is really too early in the process to determine that" and ask
another question. If asked about your current salary, answer honestly.
Be sure to mention if any significant factors are in play such as a
stock option vesting period, salary bonus or salary review. Those
things are better discussed early rather than having them come up as a
surprise later on.
Closing the Conversation
After you have given the employer enough information so that they know
you have the qualifications for the position, and after you have
enough information about the company so that you feel you have some
interest in the position move toward the following script.
"Mary/John, I understand you're busy and there is only so much we
can measure on the phone. I hope I've given you enough information to
realize that I have the qualifications for this position. Based on what
you've shared with me, I think we should meet - what would be a
Then stop talking!
If there is a problem it will come out here. If an interview is
scheduled, Congratulations! You can move on to the next chapter,
Preparation for the Face to Face Interview! If the employer declines to
set an interview date - ask them where they feel you were lacking.
Maybe it was simply a misunderstanding or failure to give them the
information. After clearing this up - ask for the interview again!
Next: Preparation for the Face to Face Interview >>
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