In some ways, a phone interview can almost be more nerve-wracking than an in-person one. Most people are somewhat self-conscious about how they sound on the phone and without being able to read your interviewer's body language and facial expressions it can be hard to get a read on how the interview is going. There's also seemingly more anticipation leading up to the interview. Your phone is in front of you, maybe it's a minute or two past the scheduled time and it's easy to wonder about all the things that could potentially go wrong. What if the phone lines go down? What if the interviewer is held up in a meeting? However, a phone interview doesn't have to be a cause of anxiety. Here are five tips to help you nail your next one:
1. Find a quiet setting
Seems obvious, right? Of course you don't want background noise from traffic, chatter or music during a phone interview. To avoid this, make sure you are taking the call in a quiet environment with reliable phone service. Consider every detail of where you will take the call. For example, you may frequent a small, quiet coffeehouse down the street from your apartment, but what happens if the barista turns on the espresso machine or steams some milk? Anticipate any possible interruption.
Furthermore, it's important to know when to take an impromptu interview and when to reschedule. If a hiring manager calls out of the blue and asks if you have time to chat, don't say yes if you're in the middle of something. Politely explain the situation and reschedule so that you have time to prepare and find a better setting for taking the call.
2. Know the position thoroughly
For most phone interviews, you'll have an adequate amount of time to research the company and review the job description. However, again it's important to be ready for an impromptu phone conversation. When you're job hunting, odds are you'll have several irons in the fire at any given point, so it's imperative not to mix them up. Make sure to keep track of every position to which you apply and that you're ready to have a basic conversation regarding any of them.
3. Have your application materials in front of you
If the phone interview has been scheduled in advance, be sure to have a copy of the job description, your resume, your cover letter and any other application materials on hand during your conversation. This way when the interviewer asks about an aspect of your resume or cover letter you can see exactly what he or she is referencing. Also, write down several questions you have about the position in advance, as most interviewers will leave time for you to voice your inquiries at the end of the interview.
4. Avoid rambling
Since you can't see the person on the other end of the line during a phone interview, it's natural to want to fill any gaps in conversation, which can lead to rambling. Be cognizant of how much time you are taking to answer each question, especially if a finite amount of time has been allotted for the interview. In many cases, recruiters and hiring managers have to stick to a pretty rigid schedule, and if you stick to one talking point for too long it may limit your time to address other questions and concerns.
5. Exude confidence
Confidence has a way of revealing itself over the phone. Even though the interviewer can't see you, any anxiety or nervousness will likely be inflected in your voice. Prepare for the interview thoroughly and then you'll be able to answer the phone confidently and professionally.
While you may be able to easily prepare for common interview questions, sometimes an interviewer will ask you something you simply won't see coming. This may seem like nothing more than an attempt to throw you off your game, but there's usually some logic behind these inquiries. Though you may not be able to plan out an answer for this type of question, you can still answer articulately in a way that will impress potential employers. Here are three examples of odd questions interviewers may ask you and the reasons they may be asking them:
1. Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?
Asking this type of question allows an employer to learn a couple things about you. First, it serves as an opportunity to see how you react on the fly. Most positions require flexibility and adaptability, especially in high-pressure situations. Consider this type of question a chance to show off your problem-solving and improvisation skills. Moreover, if you come up with several probable answers to this type of question, it shows interviewers that you have the ability to logically approach a problem.
2. If you could have any superpower what would it be?
This question is a bit more lighthearted. An interviewer may ask an inquiry such as this so he or she can gauge what kind of personality you have. Not only does this type of question give you an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity, but also provides an opening to tell interviewers more about yourself. When addressing questions such as this, don't feel inhibited, rather answer honestly and explain why you would opt for a specific choice.
3. How many snow shovels were sold in the US last year?
Similar to the tennis ball question, asking this type of inquiry gives you a chance to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. While it may seem like a good idea just to take a random guess, instead take your time and talk through the problem. Explain your thought process to the interviewer so he or she can see that you're taking the time to think it through and work out the details.
Anytime you are asked a question that might be challenging or unorthodox, take the time to answer it thoughtfully. This will prove to interviewers that you will approach tasks with intelligence and dedication.
Job hunting can be extremely time consuming and exhausting, so it's exciting when your dream employer calls you up and asks you to come in for an interview. However, when you sit down to talk turkey you want to be prepared. Interviewing can be a nerve-wracking experience. Here are some tips to help you perform your best:
Maintain a professional appearance
It's important to show up to an interview looking your best. Take the time to go get a haircut, iron your shirt and slip into professional attire. If you're worried you might be dressed too casually, you probably are. Taking the time to present yourself professionally highlights a time investment in the position for which you're interviewing. It also demonstrates that you respect the interviewer and the company.After all, you can never be too overdressed.
Do your research
Employers want to see that you've taken the time to learn about what the company does and what responsibilities the specific position entails. One of the best resources is the company's website. Browse the site to learn more about the history of the company, past projects and recent developments. If possible, know the names of the person or people interviewing you before you arrive. Also, learn the language of the job description. Go into the interview with a full understanding of what you would be working on if you were hired. This will also give you the ability to utilize keywords from the job description that are pertinent to the position.
Have answers prepared for the usual questions
According to Glassdoor, the two most common interview questions are "what are your strengths?" and "what are your weaknesses?". Having answers prepared for these types of general questions will help you sound cohesive and confident when answering. No one wants to admit their weaknesses, but finding methods to tactfully answer the question looks better than trying to avoid it.
Considering how much time you could potentially be spending with the company, you should have inquiries about the position and the company as a whole. Write down several questions that are relevant to the position. Most interviewers leave time for the interviewee to ask questions at the end. Be prepared to fill this time and discuss any aspects of the position you need clarified.
Say thank you
Make sure to thank the people interviewing you before you leave. After word, send thank you notes as soon as possible. Follow ups can be sent by email or handwritten. Highlight key points of the interview and express gratitude for the opportunity.
As technology continues to become increasingly advanced, more companies are relying on video conferencing software to set up interviews with potential hires. A video interview makes it possible to converse with candidates who are too far away to conveniently interview in person, and it also saves the company time. If a potential employer asks to set up a video interview, prepare for it the same way you would if you were going in to interview in person. This means you should still research the company beforehand, dress professionally and practice answering commonly asked interview questions. The only difference is that you won't actually be in the same room as the person interviewing you. However, there are a few things you can do to make sure you convey professionalism from afar. Here are four tips to help you prepare for a video interview:
1. Double check your technology
Make sure that whatever software or program you're using works properly before the interview starts. Close all other open windows and Web browsers on your computer to make sure your device can stand up to the demands of video conferencing. If you are struggling to figure out the technology, email someone from the company as far in advance of the interview as possible and have them walk you through the program. This will demonstrate initiative and preparation.
2. Look at the camera
It's natural when video conferencing to look at the people on the screen. Keep in mind that the camera is usually located above the screen of your computer. Look at the camera so there is eye contact between you and the interviewer(s) on the other end.
3. Dress appropriately
In the specific case of video interviews, some applicants decide to only dress up above the waist, because both parties are usually sitting and a person's pants go unseen. However, if you have to get up for any reason during the interview, and are wearing pajama pants or jeans, it will look unprofessional and likely leave interviewers looking for other candidates. Dress the exact same way you would if you were going into the company's offices to avoid this embarrassing faux pas.
4. Be aware of the background
When you're setting up your camera and interview area, look around to make sure your surroundings look professional. Clean off the table at which you are sitting and be aware of what is visible behind you during the interview. Remove anything that could be viewed as unprofessional.
Though they might seem intimidating, group interviews have become a regular part of the job hunt. The style of interview usually takes place with 5 to 10 other applicants, and has become widely adopted by employers as a way to save time and test candidates on their social abilities. The fact is with dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants vying for a position, most employers need a way to cut some of the time and costs from the process of filling the position. Furthermore, a group interview gives employers a chance to see how a candidate interacts amongst colleagues. Make a group interview your time to shine. Rather than worry about winning against the other job seekers in the room, focus on demonstrating tangible skills such as teamwork, leadership and creativity to your potential employer. Therefore, make a group interview about collaboration, not competition. Here are several tips for standing out during a group interview:
Prepare an introduction
Odds are you'll have the opportunity to introduce yourself to the hiring manager and the rest of the group. Rather than scrambling to come up with an introduction, plan out and practice your introduction to a group audience. Consider what basic information others would like to know about you and also several facts that make you unique. However, be careful not to take up too much time, as the rest of the group will also need to introduce themselves. When practicing, make sure your introduction is under one minute long.
Research the company
This doesn't just apply to group interviews, but every professional meeting you attend. If you know a lot about the role for which you are interviewing, it will help you stand out in a crowded room. Showcase your knowledge of the company articulately without seeming like you're trying to outdo other candidates. Start your research on the company's website, and then expand your study outward to other relevant links and resources.
Listen to others
Don't just wait for your turn to talk – be vocal, but make sure it's relevant and polite. If you simply jump in to say something unrelated to the conversation, it can signify a lack of listening skills. Employers want to see your ability to work with others, and the only way to successfully collaborate is to share ideas. However, remember to never interrupt another candidate. You'll probably be anxious about speaking frequently, but good manners can go a long way. Trying to dominate the conversation or jumping in when others are speaking can not only look rude, but also suggest a lack of teamwork skills.
Don't shy away from speaking
That being said, make sure your voice is heard in the crowd. At times the conversation will likely head in your direction naturally, but also take the initiative to speak first a couple of times. Share original ideas with the group and help facilitate the conversation to demonstrate strong leadership skills.
Don't be too surprised if some people show up to your group interview underdressed. Though a group interview might seem like a more casual setting, it's still a professional interview, which means you should look your best. Dress to the same level you would for a personal interview, but don't be afraid to do so in a way that shows off your individuality.
Bring a copy of your professional documents
Bring along the most recent version of your resume and the cover letter you wrote to apply for the position. You never know if a potential employer will ask for a physical copy of these documents. It will also help you stand out if you have these documents on hand, whereas other candidates might not bother.
Not sure what to wear for your big interview? That's understandable. In today's working world, you can find a million dress-code designations varying from hipster chic to professional casual to full on business formal. With that said, it's nearly impossible to be overdressed for an interview. The fact is, appearances do matter, and clothing plays a big part in that. You can go out and get a nice haircut, study up on the company and practice answering interview questions with a friend, but if you show up in a dirty T-shirt and ripped jeans those efforts won't make a difference. Remember, it's always better to air on the side of conservatism. That is to say, focus on dressing professionally. Even if you know the company you are interviewing with has a business-casual dress code, wearing a suit won't hurt your chances.
Of course, it's easy to point fingers at professionals that break the standard dress code. For example, the tech world is notorious for having executives that wear hoodies and jeans in the boardroom. Yes, it is true that many businesses are shifting toward a more relaxed style of attire, but how you are expected to dress day-to-day once you've gotten the job is irrelevant to how you dress for an interview. While high school and college settings encourage freedom of expression, an idea that is often emphasized through choices in apparel, there are simple rules when it comes to dressing for an interview. Essentially, employers will initially associate your ability to succeed professionally with your ability to look professional. Here are some tips for dressing appropriately for an interview:
Of course, despite all of this advice, it's also important to research office culture. Learn about a company's dress code policy by researching its website. Be adaptable. If you show up to an interview in a suit, and the hiring manager is wearing a T-shirt and shorts, taking off your jacket might make you appear more relaxed while still exhibiting the fact that you came ready to go. Dress appropriately, prepare properly and demonstrate professionalism.
You think you're nailing the interview, but it's not quite over. The hiring manager has been asking you the tough questions, and you've answered each one confidently and professionally. You had several copies of your resume printed and ready to go. They loved your references, and now the interview is wrapping up.
"Do you have any questions for me?" the hiring manager asks.
This is your moment to shine. Remember that an interview is a two-way street. Asking questions during an interview not only gives you an opportunity to learn about the company, but also provides you the chance to impress employers. Asking Intelligent questions can reveal a lot about your work ethic. In fact, the questions you ask potentially hint at how much you want the job. This is your time to learn specific information about the company, the department and the position. That means you should have several questions prepared before the interview begins. Some of them may get answered during the interview itself, but it's likely you'll still have few more when the interview comes to a close.
General question ideas
Questions about company culture, tasks relevant to the position and who you will be working with directly are usually appropriate during an interview. Some ideas for general questions include:
These questions are a good starting point, but remember to ask questions that are relevant to the position for which you're applying. Read through the job description several times and research the company online before going in for an interview.
Questions to avoid asking
Despite the fact that we are taught in school that there is no such thing as a bad question, there are several types of questions to avoid during interviews.
For decades, business professionals have claimed to be able to tell a lot about a person from the way he or she shakes hands. Part of this is due to the situation normally surrounding this gesture. A handshake normally takes place when you're first meeting someone who is, in many cases, a professional such as a potential employer. During this first encounter, hiring managers might make conjectures about your personality simply by paying attention to things like eye contact, the tone of your voice and your overall appearance. Therefore, it is no surprise that a handshake can be a pivotal part of this initial meeting. What does your handshake say about you? Here is a basic guide to handshake etiquette:
Go with age-old advice
The classic advice for an American handshake is still the norm. Extend your right hand, grasp the other person's hand firmly, shake two or three times, and release. This may seem simple, but people struggle to correctly perform the age-old handshake all the time. Part of the reason for this might be due to a lack of practice or external factors such as stress, anxiety or frustration. There are a number of bad handshake forms that have developed monikers over time. Some of them include:
Be aware of your posture
Remember that a good handshake is accompanied by proper posture and clear eye contact. The handshake is social gesture meant to mutually symbolize respect and professionalism. Standing indifferently and offering an employer a dead fish handshake might cause them to believe you don't take the job seriously. A jittery disposition accompanied by sweaty palms, on the other hand, might convey nervousness. Handshakes should always be given standing up, so stand when first meeting someone. Remember not to slouch or leave your other hand in your pocket.
Nervous about going in for a job interview? You can relax knowing you can prepare for many of the most common questions. Though it's impossible to know exactly what an interviewer will ask you, employers across many job fields ask various standard questions to get a general feeling of a candidates's work experience, personality and future goals. Go into an interview with answers to these inquiries prepared to reduce your anxiety and build your confidence:
What can you tell me about the company?
Research the company's website before the interview to help prep for this question. It's important to have an understanding of a company's missions and values to demonstrate your interest in the position, but don't stop there. Consider how the position for which you are interviewing is important to you. Furthermore, be able to convey why you want to work with the company and how its mission aligns with your specific career goals. Use buzzwords from the website to emphasize relevant skills.
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
When answering this type of question it is important to be honest and accurate. Interviewers are looking for you to demonstrate self-awareness and tangible ability. Embellishing your strengths can potentially look arrogant, and ignoring your weaknesses comes off as dishonest. However, don't let your shortcomings ruin your chances either. Instead, be candid about weaknesses but also discuss how you are working to strengthen yourself.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This question gives you an opportunity to showcase ambition. Employers want to see that you have thought about the future and are looking to take on new challenges. Though no employer expects a definitive answer to this inquiry, vague or unthoughtful answers will potentially make you look flaky and unmotivated. Employers desire to hire on new talent who want to continually grow, so be able to discuss your long-term career and educational goals.
Do you have any questions about the position?
When an employer asks you this, it is an opportunity to learn more about the position. Ask questions that demonstrate your research and interest in working for the company. Avoid too many questions about salary or benefits, and instead try to learn as much about the specifics of your role in the company if you are hired. Ask about the typical work day, the short and long term goals for the position and office culture.