Tuesday, February 27, 2024

What To Say In A Phone Interview For A Job

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Tell Me About A Time You Failed

What to say in a pre-screening phone interview for a job.

Failure is inevitable.

It happens to all of us and it’s a part of growth! Great companies understand this and they know that the way a person handles failure says a lot about their personality and attitude.

Bad employees shift blame to others and make excuses when they fail.

Great employees acknowledge their failures, reflect on them, and then implement strategies/steps to ensure they don’t happen again.

You want your answer to show that you’re not afraid to take responsibility and learn from your failures:

Here’s another answer from a client of mine who was transitioning from Real Estate into managing a team of people at an Automotive Marketing Agency:

What Skills Would You Bring To The Job

While this is similar to questions like, Why should we hire you? or What can you bring to the company? it allows you to be more specific about your work ethic, style and unique abilities as it relates to the role.

An impactful answer will discuss your hard and soft skills and use the STAR method to illustrate how your unique skills might benefit the team or organization.

Example answer:I can make anyone feel comfortable in a new environment, which makes me a good fit as a human resources assistant. In my previous position, a new employee came to me and told me that she didnt think she was right for the company culture. After talking to her for a few minutes, we realized that she felt too much pressure to participate in company events. I started introducing events that involved fewer competitions and more casual environments, and she quickly grew more comfortable with her team.

Read more: Interview Question: “What Skills Would You Bring to the Job?”

Research Common Interview Questions

Dont forget to prepare for questions you might be asked during your phone interview. Start by reaching out to people in your network who have worked or interviewed with the company in the past and ask them about potential interview questions.

If you dont know anyone with connections to the company, dont sweat it. There are other ways to get the inside scoop on the interview process. For instance, Glassdoor has interview questions and reviews that can give you a better idea of what will be asked in your interview.

If youre interviewing for internships, you need to be prepared for a different set of questions. Be sure to check out our list of common internship interview questions and know how to answer them.

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Do You Have Any Questions For Us

If you dont ask good questions in each interview, you might be costing yourself job offers. Asking questions shows interest in the position and shows employers that youre looking for the right fit, not just any job. This will make them trust you more and want you more.

You can ask about the work, the training, the challenges youd face, the overall direction of the company.

Dont ask about salary, benefits, time off, or anything that isnt related to the work. Wait for them to bring it up, or until you know they want to offer you the position.

Here are 105 of the best questions to ask the interviewer.

Example answer:

Yes, I have a couple of questions actually. The first thing I wanted to ask: Is this a newly-created position, or did somebody hold this role in the past? And if so, what did that person go on to do after this position?


If you have interviews coming up and dont want to leave anything to chance, Ive created a new guide where you can copy my exact step-by-step method for getting job offers. You can get more details here.

Why Did You Leave Your Previous Job

letter thank you for interview

Employers are always curious about why you want to make your next move. It’s their way of background checking you before handing over an offer.

They want to know if you have a legitimate reason for leaving, or if you may be the problem. They’ll also be curious about things that don’t add up on your resume like:

  • The fact that you’ve been unemployed for 6 months
  • Why you’ve had 4 jobs in the last two years
  • Etc.

Now, none of those situations are bad if you can explain them well. That’s why this answer is so critical. You own the narrative about your situation and getting buy in from the person on the other end of the phone will boost your chances of landing in the next round.

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Tell Us About A Challenge Youve Faced And How You Handled It

Focus on a specific work-related challenge and talk about how you overcame obstacles, used it as a learning experience, used the resources around you , and ended up with a positive result! Thats how to answer this interview question. Keep it work-related, not personal.

  • Explain the situation, the task you needed to accomplish, and what method you chose


  • Talk about an argument you had
  • Talk about a challenge that you didnt overcome, or didnt find a solution for

Answer example:

In my last job, we were facing a tough deadline and my boss was out for the day. Our client was expecting a project to be delivered by 5:00 PM, but we were far behind schedule. I took the lead on the project, delegated tasks to the four other team members in a way that I thought would utilize everyones strengths best. And then I re-organized my own personal tasks so I could dedicate my entire day to contributing to this project as well. The project was a success and we delivered the work on-time. I went on to lead more projects after that, and used what I learned to be a better project manager.

How To Start A Conversation On A Telephone Interview


Once you make a first impression, there’s no opportunity to change it. This is especially true in a phone interview conversation because the caller must rely on only the sound of your voice and the words you speak to evaluate you as a job candidate. From the moment you start a phone interview, be polite, confident and alert. Ensure a successful telephonic interview conversation by starting it on a positive note. Studies have shown that the first 30 seconds of an interview, in person or on the phone, matter when it comes to selecting a candidate for a job. Confidence and calmness come across during a phone interview conversation, so try to project those traits as much as possible.

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What Other Jobs Have You Been Interviewing For

Heres why employers ask this: They want to make sure their job fits the general theme of what youre looking for.

Your answer is only going to worry them or raise a red flag if all the other jobs youre applying for are WAY different than this job.

So to give a great answer here, show the employer that their job fits the overall theme of other jobs youre looking at.

And if they do ask for company names, you can refuse by saying, Id like to keep the names of the other companies confidential. Id do the same for your company if another interviewer asked me.

See examples below or read our guide to answers for what other companies are you interviewing with?

Sample answer:

Ive been applying and interviewing at small and mid-sized banks and financial firms like yours. I spent the first 4 years of my career with Bank of America, so Im hoping to experience a smaller work environment now to round-out my skill set. Id like to keep the names of the other companies confidential, though. Id do the same for your company if another employer were to ask me.

Why Should We Hire You

5 Things You Should Never Say In a Job Interview

While this question may seem like an intimidation tactic, interviewers generally ask to offer another opportunity to explain why youre the best candidate. Your answer should address the skills and experience you offer, why youre a good culture fit and what you believe youd bring to the role.

One thing to remember as youre discussing your fitness for the company with employers is that the idea of culture fit can sometimes be used as a way to eliminate and discriminate against candidates, however unknowingly, who dont think, act or look like existing employees. A better alternative concept you might consider speaking to is culture add, or your ability to bring fresh and additive ideas and feedback to the team. Culture adds make the company stronger by diversifying the experiences and perspectives of its workforce.

Example answer:My experience accurately managing inventory intake and skills in creating effective, streamlined schedules make me uniquely qualified to succeed in this kitchen manager position. I understand that you require a highly organized candidate with acute attention to detail. In my previous job, I successfully handled schedules for 20 employees and reduced food waste by 15%. Im confident in my ability to use my organizational skills to bring efficiency and order to your restaurant.

Read more: Interview Question: Why Should We Hire You?

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Address The Phone Interviewer By His Or Her Name

Once youve been introduced to your interviewer, immediately address them by their name in your first sentence. For example, you could say, Hi Mr. or Ms. .., thank you for calling. This tactic will quickly establish a sincere and respectful rapport.

Also, be conscious of any titles your employers may go by such as Datuk and Datin. Calling them by these titles indicates respect and that youve done your research on your prospective employers.

Let The Interviewer Guide The Conversation

When it comes to the actual interview portion of your phone interview conversation, let the interviewer lead. She will have specific questions she wants to ask at the start of the call and may have a predetermined order for what questions to ask. Try your best to not interrupt when shes asking questions, and answer the questions in the order they are asked.

If you start your phone interview conversation on the right foot, it can give you the confidence boost you need to continue with a great interview.


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Mistakes To Avoid When You Reply To Accept An Interview

If you read the tips above, you should know how to respond to an interview request to get an interview quickly and make a great impression at the same time.

However, there are some BIG mistakes you need to avoid while doing this, so I want to make sure you know those, too

First, dont let your interview invitation sit for too long. You should try to respond within 24-48 hours if possible. You dont need to be checking email constantly, but dont leave the company waiting for a week, either.

Also, dont respond without taking the time to indicate at least one day or time that would work for an interview. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate that you take initiative and are a great communicator. So Id recommend providing multiple days/times to help them schedule the interview.

Next, always proofread your email! Having a typo or mistake in your email probably wont cost you the interview , but it does make a poor impression.

So always check your email for mistakes before sending it! Proofread from top-to-bottom, and bottom-to-top. Thats a good trick that will help you catch more errors!

And finally the biggest mistake of all going into the interview without preparing! It takes a lot of effort to find a good position to apply to, submit your resume and paperwork, schedule an interview, etc. Right?

How Is Your Job Search Going So Far

Thank You Letter After Job Interview  10+ Free Sample ...

Employers ask this in a phone interview to get a sense of how things are going for you overall, how much other companies are interested, and even how soon you might have job offers .

The one thing you dont want to do with your answer is sound like youre completely struggling to find a job.

If you arent getting many interviews or if you just started taking phone interviews, you can always say: Im just beginning to take interviews, but its going well so far.

If you have had a few interviews but they didnt go well, you can say that you havent found the right fit yet. So for example, you might say, Ive had a couple of phone interviews so far but havent found a great fit yet.

Sample answer:

Things are going well so far. Im just beginning to take phone interviews, and Im still very early in my job search. I expect to have some face-to-face interviews soon.

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Get Ready For The Call

Before the call, confirm all the details, including the date, time, and who you will be talking to. Be sure you know whether the interviewer is calling you or if you need to make the call.

If something goes wrong and you miss the call, or the recruiter doesn’t call on time, take a deep breath and try to stay calm. You should be able to get the call back on track or reschedule if need be.

Use a quiet, comfortable, and private space with no distractions so you can focus on the interview.

If you’ll be using your cellphone, make sure it’s fully charged, and you are in a spot with good reception for the call. You may also find that standing during an interview helps you sound more energetic during the call.

Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job

There are many acceptable reasons for leaving a job. Prepare a thoughtful answer that will give your interviewer confidence that youre being deliberate about this job change. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of your current or previous role, focus on the future and what you hope to gain in your next position. Consider the following when crafting your response:

1. Focus on your skills:“Ive been refining my project management skills with volunteer opportunities and side projects with other teams, and I received my PMP last quarter…”

2. Keep it positive:“…Im looking for an opportunity where I can put those abilities to work for a mission Im passionate about…

3. Relate it back to the job:…I was also excited to read in the job description that this role will require regular presentations to key stakeholdersone of my key motivators is the ability to connect with colleagues and communicate my teams work, so this is an especially exciting part of this opportunity…

4. Provide a recap:…Ultimately, Ive learned a lot in my current role, but Im looking for the next step where I can continue to grow and use the skills Ive honed to contribute to a company I love, and this opportunity seems to be the perfect fit.

Read more: Interview Question: Why Are You Looking for a Job?

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How To Nail A Job Interview In The First 5 Minutes

The first few moments of your interview can have a decisive impact on how well the rest of it goes. Heres how to start strong together with some cautionary tales of what not to do from real interviewers

1. What time should I arrive at my interview?

Whilst it’s important to make sure you arrive early enough to allow yourself time to settle in remember that the interview starts long before you shake hands and sit down infront of your interviewer. You never know who you might bump into on your commute, or whilst in the companys building lift. So make sure you project a friendly, confident, professional manner from the moment you set off.

On arrival put your phone on silent mode, make conversation with the receptionist and take in your surroundings you might notice something that will make a useful ‘small-talk’ topic later. Dont try and cram in any last-minute facts you want to come across as calm and organised, not flustered and under-prepared.

What not to do:

I once heard someone standing outside our building, smoking furiously and complaining loudly on their phone about the early start time of their meeting and wondering aloud why they were even there. When I got to my next interview, I realised to my dismay the noisy moaner was my next candidate! Not a great start.

2. What should I do before my interview?

What not to do:

3. How can I create a strong first impression?

What not to do:

4. How can I prepare for the small talk?

What not to do:

What not to do:

What About This Position Attracted You To Apply

How To Do A Phone Interview Successfully – Phone Interview Tips

The more a candidate tells you the better. Do the like the industry or perhaps technologies or equipment your company uses.

If they say well its close to my house and thats the main reason then you may want to keep talking to other candidates. You are going to be investing in this person and you want them to be excited about the opportunity.

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Forgetting To Prepare For Bad Signal And Other Tech Troubles

“I’ve had too many interviews that needed to be rescheduled at the last minute because the candidate couldn’t get their technology to work,” career-change expert Caroline Ceniza-Levine says in a guest post for Forbes.

There are several technical mishaps that can strike at precisely the wrong moment: you could end up with bad signal, your battery could run out, your internet connection could drop or your computer might force you to reinstall your video software.

Interviewers aren’t interested in what’s going wrong or why you have to nip these problems in the bud by pre-empting them and taking preventative measures beforehand.

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