You always want to prepare answers for common interview questions before every interview. If you occasionally have to stop and think a bit before you give an answer, that’s OK–but if you constantly have a deer-in-the-headlights look in your eyes, it will be painfully obvious that you’re unprepared for the interview and you don’t care that much about getting the job. They can’t see your blank, panicked eyes in the phone interview, but those long pauses can also be pretty damaging.Phone interviews lend you a big advantage here. You can jot down your answers to common questions and have them right in front of you during your interview. It’s your own personal “cheat sheet” to give you a boost and make sure you don’t forget any key points. Here are a few of the most common phone interview questions, along with a few things to consider including in your answer:
- “Tell me about yourself.” – This is never an invitation to tell them anything too personal about yourself. This answer should always focus on your key “selling points”. What can you highlight about yourself that summarizes why you’re a good fit for this job?
- “Why are you interested in this job?” – Your company research should give you some pretty good ammunition for answering this question. You want to tell them why your skills are a good fit, and then give them about 3 reasons why you’d like working at that company. How will it benefit you personally and professionally?
- “Why are you leaving your current job?” – Never, ever say anything like, “Because I can’t stand it there anymore.” You always want to try to be positive in all your job interview answers, even though some questions practically require you to be negative. Try to answer this question by focusing on why this job appeals to you, rather than why your last one doesn’t anymore. If you must give a reason, try to choose one that was a factor in your old job that won’t be in this one (location, commute, or something else that’s a “neutral” answer).
- “What salary are you looking for?” – Some interviewers really will ask you this in the phone interview. They are trying to find out if they can afford you before they invest a lot of time in you (maybe because you’re overqualified). Try to avoid answering this one. If you can’t avoid it, say something like, “I’m sure that you’re offering an appropriate range for this position, and it won’t be a problem. What range have you budgeted for it?” (Turning the question back to them is one of my favorite tactics.)
Even though you’re preparing your answers ahead of time, be careful about reading them out loud. Some people cannot do this naturally and sound like they’re reading something out loud, which is bad. Either practice ahead of time so you sound smooth and natural, or just write down a few notes and phrases that you can use in your answer.
See more great advice in the rest of my phone interview tips series.
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