In order to know what phone interview questions to ask in the phone interview, you have to first understand what the purpose of the phone interview is for the hiring business.
Essentially, they have an opening, numerous resumes and they have now identified those resumes that appear to be best qualified for the position. In order to better understand the candidates and to potentially eliminate any that don’t meet some top level criteria, they use the phone to streamline the process. Usually the phone interview is to further reduce the pool of potential candidates so it can be a fairly short call with the hiring manager or recruiter asking only a few key questions.
In this bad economy, many hiring managers also use the phone interview as a partial interview in order to save money in flying candidates to the company to interview, if they will fly them in at all. Usually, the initial call is a screening interview and should they want to do a second call it will be less of a screen than a partial interview. It’s important to understand the reason for the phone interview in the first place in order for you to be prepared and to set your expectations appropriately. Some people get off the phone of a phone screen and feel like they were just part of a hit run it went so fast.
As a candidate in the phone screen interview, you want to ensure you know and understand the following basics:
– Which opening they are referring to – you may have applied for several
– What is the company – you may have applied to a “blind” opening or they may be recruiting you making it vital for you to know exactly what company this position is for
You may not need to ask those questions if the person you are speaking has freely offered this up to you. You do want to schedule the phone interview to allow you enough time to prepare when first contacted, even if it is later that same day. The person calling may really want to push to speak to you then, since they have you on the phone – so do your best.
Keep in mind that in a phone interview, they are very likely to be more oriented toward screening you out and may not allow you much time to freely ask questions or sell yourself. In a typical in-person interview the dialogue is expected to be a bit more evenly split so you can ask them several questions at that time.
If you can inject some key phone interview questions to ask, you should consider these as your highest priority:
– What are the important or key elements of this position and what they are looking for in this position – This is a good question because it will help you focus your responses on the most important aspects of your skills as it relates to this position. While you may not be able to fully share that information during a phone interview, you do want to make note of it for the full interview.
– What created this opening – It’s good to understand if a position has been newly formed or if it existed previously. Positions that are new tend to be somewhat unformed and they may rely on someone who has a history of developing new processes rather than adapting to existing. If you don’t do well with ambiguity of a newly formed position, you may want to ask about their expectations for setting things up and consider pulling yourself out of the running if you’re concerned. This may also give you an indication of departmental issues if there has been multiple turnovers.
In terms of closing or ending the phone interview you should:
– Ask about any hesitation or concerns they may have with your qualifications so you can quickly address them before the end of the call
– Ask about next steps and timing
Between these phone interview questions to ask and the ones they need to ask you probably have filled the allocated time. You always want to be prepared to treat a phone interview the same way you would treat an in-person interview. Be prepared; be organized and familiar with your resume and the position.
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