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Phone Interview Tips: 10 Keys to Succeed in a Telephonic Interview

In a world where jobs are no longer restricted by political and geographical boundaries, several companies today are conducting phone interviews to short-list candidates before calling them in for a face-to-face interaction.

A phone interview has several advantages both for the employer and candidate. It is typically shorter than a face-to-face interview, allowing the interviewer to save on time.

For the candidate, who has the advantage of remaining unseen, a phone interview allows the use of cue cards and cheat sheets, as well as access to the Internet.

Here are 10 phone interview tips to help you ace your phone interview:

1. Choose a good spot
Companies generally tell you in advance when they will be calling. Choose a room where you can speak without disruption. Shut out other noises like TV and radio, take the kids away and lock the room from inside. Ask your family members not to disturb you when the interview is in progress. Get a good phone — preferably a landline. You don’t want calls to drop at this time.

2. Keep documents handy
Get a hard copy of your resume and cover letter and keep it ready. Keep pen and paper handy to take down notes. You could even keep your laptop on in case you want to refer to the Internet. But take care to be discreet — don’t hammer away loudly at the keys of your computer.

3. Use a cheat sheet
One of the great advantages of a phone interview is invisibility. Prepare for expected questions in advance and jot down points on a piece of paper. Write clearly and legibly since you will be referring to it under pressure. Practice the answers to expected questions beforehand and prepare for any derivative question that may arise as well.

4. Be in a positive frame of mind
This may seem odd, but smile! Though the interviewer cannot see you, it is not difficult to sense your mood over the phone. If you feel happy, bright and enthusiastic, this will reflect in your voice. Some experts also suggest dressing for the interview. If you think this will put you in the right frame of mind for the interview, go right ahead and slip into formal clothes.

5. Do your homework
You’ve already visited the company portal while writing your cover letter, so you have a sense of what the organization is about. This may be a good time to go back to the portal and brush up on that knowledge. If you know the name of your interviewer, you could also search him/her on the Internet to learn more about him/her.

6. Treat the interview like a face-to-face interaction
It is easy to fall into the trap of not taking a phone interview as seriously as a face-to-face interview. But remember, this is a process of elimination as well. It will be unfortunate if you were eliminated at this stage because you did not take the interview seriously enough. Prepare for a phone interview as you would for a face-to-face interaction.

7. Ask intelligent questions
After he/she is done with the interview, your interviewer will typically ask if you have any questions. This is a chance for you to showcase your intelligence. You could ask questions on the role you are being interviewed for, company branding or its strategy to beat market slump. Asking questions that tell the employer you are serious about this role.

8. Don’t bring up salary
It is too early at this stage to bring up salary and perks. The company is still assessing your suitability for the job. Salary discussions generally take place in the final stages of the hiring process. So hold your horses till then!

9. Ask if the interviewer has other questions
Asking the interviewer if he/she has any other questions is a good way to round up the discussion. This will give him/her a chance go back to the list of questions and see if something has been left out. If there are no more questions, ask what the next step will be in the hiring process.

10. Say thank you
Don’t forget to say thank you, even if the interview has gone badly. Some experts even recommend sending a short thank you note to the interviewer a day after the interview.

You may spend a lot of time talking on the phone, but that does not equip you to master a phone interview. So keep these pointers in mind to get one step closer to the job.

How to dress for a job interview: Top tips from experts

A wise man once said, “You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.”

Your attire is the first thing people notice when you walk into an interview. This makes it absolutely essential that you dress properly when you present yourself to the selection board. In fact, it will be expected of you to dress well for the interaction. A scruffy, messy or ungroomed look is guaranteed to earn you negative marks.

The other thing to keep in mind is to look the part. Different sectors have different dress codes, which complicates matters when it comes to finalizing one’s interview wardrobe. Creative jobs, for instance, have a much more relaxed dress code than the corporate sector. Some individual companies, too, have their own dress codes and what you wear is often used as a yardstick by interviewers to assess how familiar you are with the culture of the company and whether you’d be a good fit.

The bottomline is there is no overarching directive when it comes to dressing for an interview. It really depends on a number of variables like the industry, company, department and the position you are applying for. However, there are a few ground rules which exist that are non-negotiable. Those would include a well-groomed appearance, no body odor, clean, sharply pressed and well-fitted clothes, short nails, brushed hair and polished shoes.

Since choosing interview attire is never easy, a bit of expert advice is always welcome. Here are some tips from people who matter on how to dress for a job interview:

Pick horses for courses
Take the sector, company and the position you are interviewing for into account. As designer Nikasha Tawadey has said in an interview, “The norms for dressing in an advertising agency for a copywriter will be very different as compared to say a fashion stylist or a hairdresser. So, you need to figure out what works in your preferred profession.”

Dig around to learn about the dress code
It is always a good idea to check up on the dress code before finalizing your wardrobe. Some companies specify an interview dress code in the call letter itself. Mails from Google, for instance, are known to carry the following sartorial advisory: Feel free to leave your suit at home – we’re business casual here at Google. We believe you can be serious without a suit. While we have no formal dress code, you should look presentable during the day of your interview. Business casual is fine.

Corporate jobs, however, would require you to dress differently. At global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, candidates are advised to dress as they would if they were going to meet a client, paying attention to details and taking care to avoid anything flashy. For an ad agency, on the other hand, jeans are okay, but not shorts. For creative jobs, “The rule is that you have to feel comfortable and not out of place. You need to understand what looks good on you and which colours you can manage to pull off,” designer Javed Khan has said in an interview.

The rise of business casuals
A formal dress code has been the norm when it comes to interviewing for corporate positions, but business casuals are also steadily gaining acceptance. Slacks or khakis, an open dress shirt with no tie and loafers for men; a dress or knee-length skirt-blouse with dress shoes that cover most of the foot would describe this look. Showing up in such attire may be worth the risk since it sends the message that you’ve researched the company. “I feel these days boundaries between formal and casual are blurring,” Khan has said. “You needn’t wear a pair of formal trousers. Combine raw denim with a cutaway Oxford shirt or wear the shirt with a pair of khakis and a black belt.” Take care, however, to not be excessively experimental.

Choose the right colours
Creative jobs offer more leeway when it comes to colours but corporate jobs are governed by a more severe colour code. Studies have shown that red, orange and pink are intensely disliked by recruiters, while navy blue and black are preferred.

Interview Wardrobe Dos and Don’ts

Stick to business-professional looks.
Those who dress inappropriately or too informal can be seen as having a more casual attitude toward work and authority.
If you aren’t comfortable in your outfit, that will come across in an interview.
Check out the office attire prior to showing up for the interview. If everyone at the office is wearing shorts and you arrive in a suit, you won’t fit in.
When in doubt, bring a jacket and carry it with you. You can throw it on if you need a more formal look or leave it off to be casual.

The 10 Worst Mistakes Career Changers Make

Changing careers is never easy. Half the world thinks you’ve lost your mind, headhunters say you’ll never work again and your mother-in-law steps up the old, “I told you so” routine. But for many burned-out, bored or multi-talented folks who are sitting on skills they’re not getting a chance to use, changing fields is the only way to keep from losing their marbles.

Regardless of your career change strategy, never make these 10 mistakes

1. Don’t look for a job in another field without some intense introspection.
Nothing is worse than leaping before you look. Make sure you’re not escaping to a field that fits you just as poorly as your last. Check out these self-assessment articles.
Get thorough information about the fields you’re considering by networking, reading and doing online research. Having informational interviews with alumni from your college, colleagues, friends or family is a fun way to get the scoop on different fields.

2. Don’t look for “hot” fields unless they’re a good fit for you.
You wouldn’t try to squeeze into your skinny cousin’s suit, so why try a field because it works for him? People who are trying to help you will come along and do the equivalent of whispering “plastics” in your ear. Instead of jumping at their suggestions, take time to consider your options. Decide what you really want to do. When you enter a field just because it’s hot, burnout isn’t far behind.

3. Don’t go into a field because your friend is doing well in it.
Get thorough information about the fields you’re considering by networking, reading and doing online research. Having informational interviews with alumni from your college, colleagues, friends or family is a fun way to get the scoop on different fields.

4. Don’t stick to possibilities you already know about.
Stretch your perception of what might work for you. Read some job profiles and explore career fields you learn about from self-assessment exercises.

5. Don’t let money be the deciding factor.
There’s not enough money in the world to make you happy if your job doesn’t suit you. Workplace dissatisfaction and stress is the number-one health problem for working adults. This is particularly true for career changers, who often earn less until they get their sea legs in a different field.

6. Don’t keep your dissatisfaction to yourself or try to make the switch alone.
This is the time to talk to people (probably not your boss just yet). Friends, family and colleagues need to know what’s going on so they can help you tap into those 90-plus percent of jobs that aren’t advertised until somebody has them all sewn up.

7. Don’t go back to school to get retreaded unless you’ve done some test drives in the new field.
You’re never too old for an internship, a volunteer experience or trying your hand at a contract assignment in a new field. There are lots of ways to get experience that won’t cost you anything except your time. A new degree may or may not make the world sit up and take notice. Be very sure where you want to go before you put yourself through the pain and debt of another degree program.

8. Be careful when using placement agencies or search firms.
Do some research to be sure to find a good match. Ask those who work in the field you’re trying to get into or other successful career changers for suggestions. Try to find a firm that knows how to be creative when placing career changers — not one that solely focuses on moving people up the ladder in the same field.

9. Don’t go to a career counselor or a career transitions agency expecting they can tell you which field to enter.
Career advisors are facilitators, and they’ll follow your lead. They can help ferret out your long-buried dreams and talents, but you’ll have to do the research and the decision making by yourself. Anyone who promises to tell you what to do is dangerous.

10. Don’t expect to switch overnight.
A thorough career change usually will take a minimum of six months to pull off, and the time frequently stretches to a year or more. Changing fields is one of the most invigorating things you can do. It’s like experiencing youth all over again, except with the wisdom of whatever age you are now.

10 Most Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Job interview? Or interrogation? Judging by the response, it may as well be the same thing.

A poll conducted recently reveals that fear of being interviewed tops the list of reasons why employees find it hard to change jobs. Candidates dread this stage in the recruitment process primarily because there is no way to predict what they will be asked.

 

But what if there was a way to foresee the queries? Hiring experts claim there are certain standard questions put to candidates during the interview process. All you have to do is prepare for them to (hopefully!) land the job.

Q1: What are your strengths?
With this query, interviewers attempt to assess whether you have the qualities needed for the job. They also want to see how well you understand yourself.

Your strategy: This is your chance to sell yourself. Pick three or four of your strengths that are relevant to the job and illustrate them with examples, if necessary.

Sample answer: If you are interviewing for a marketing job, say something like, “One of my strengths is persuasion. I am a keen observer of people and quick to discern personalities. It helps me understand people and those insights help me convert them to my point of view.”

Q2: What are your weaknesses?
Interviewers want to assess your character with this question. Also, check whether you have any flaws that will hinder the discharge of your duties in case you are hired. It’s also a good way for them to see how you deal with your weaknesses.

Your strategy: Don’t pick any weakness that is a fundamental flaw in your personality as an answer. Instead, choose those that are significant but not enough to lead the interviewers to form a negative opinion of you. State your weaknesses and proceed to explain how you’ve been working to address them. Or you could choose a weakness that is not directly relevant to the job profile you are interviewing for.

Sample answer: If you are interviewing for the post of an accountant, it is okay to say that your language skills are not very good. Though they do not hamper the discharge of your duties in any significant manner, add that you are working to address this weakness because you realize that good language skills are necessary at work.

Q3: Why are you interested in working for [insert company name here]?
The objective of this question is to assess how serious the candidate is about seeking employment with the company. The interviewer also wants to know how familiar you are with the company’s mission, culture and values and whether you believe you will be a good fit in the organization.

Your strategy: What you say will tell the interviewer how the job fits in with your long-term career plans.

Sample answer: You could answer, “I have wanted to work in this organization for a long time now, so when I heard about a vacancy in your company that fit my profile, I immediately applied for it. I admire the way you successfully combine commerce with socially responsible business and would love to be a part of an organization that looks at business in a holistic manner.”

Q4: Where do you see yourself in five years?
The interviewer wants to know about your career goals and where this position figures in it. Hiring a new employee is costly, so he/she wants to be sure you are coming on board for the long haul. Your answer will also tell the interviewer how realistic you are with regard to career prospects.

Your strategy: It is best to answer this question generically without getting into too much detail. Reiterate what the job will do for your career and why you are interested in working with this organization in particular. And of course, don’t be naive enough to say, “In your position!”

Sample answer: “I see myself having grown both with regard to expertise in my field as well as within the company set-up. I picture myself in a leadership role contributing more to the growth of the organization. At the same time, I also see a tremendous growth in my own skills and capabilities,” is a good way to go.

Q5. Why do you want to leave your current company?
The interviewer is certain to ask this question, so prepare for it. The answer will tell him several things about your attitude, career goals, professional values and sense of maturity and judgment.

Your strategy: The best way to tackle this question is to say that you are looking for better opportunities. If you’ve been laid off, tell the truth, and explain how you’ve been unlucky. It is better to be honest and explain your position than be caught lying about your circumstances.

Sample answer: Try, “I have put in a number of years in my current organization, performed well and risen through the ranks, but I would now like something more challenging. I believe this job will provide me with exactly such an opportunity.”

Q6: Why was there a gap in your employment between [insert date] and [insert date]?

Your strategy: While short gaps in employment may go unnoticed, a gap of two months or more requires an explanation. It’s wise to stick with the truth. If you were fired, you ought to have a good explanation that doesn’t veer very far from the truth, but does not paint you in bad light either. If you had to leave, you will have to explain why things got so bad that you had to resign without finding another job.

In any case, highlight what you’ve done in the interim like freelancing, consulting or volunteering. This will tell the interviewer that you’ve been productive during this period and broadened your skill-base.

Sample answer: In case you left because of a conflict with your boss, say differences did not allow you to work well together. Don’t forget to add what you realized in hindsight to show how the incident has helped you grow. Never badmouth your boss; act mature and accept the fact that both of you were responsible for the situation spinning out of control.

Q7: What can you offer us that someone else cannot?
This is an extension of the earlier question on your strengths. If the interviewer has already asked you about your strengths, then asking this question means he/she would like an answer that is more specific to your job. A variant of this question could be, “Why should we hire you?” The answer will help the interviewer compare what you bring to the table vis-a-vis the others.

Your strategy: Prepare for this by referring closely to the job description. List out your other strengths and connect them to the requirements mentioned in the job advert.

Sample answer: You could say, “I have already mentioned my strengths, but if you were to ask me about something unique which I bring, I would say it’s my attention to detail. Though it can be annoying for others, this trait of mine has saved several situations from turning into disasters in the past.”

Q8: What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
This is a variant of the weakness question. If the interviewer has asked you this question in addition to the one on weakness, it means he/she wants to know what others think of you.

Your strategy: Try and recollect your performance reviews, mention what they said, and talk about the steps you’ve taken to address those weaknesses. Keep it real, but refrain from mentioning any serious flaw that could jeopardize your chances of making it through the interview round.
Sample answer: “Amongst the feedback I received, I was told that I wasn’t assertive enough. Though I was performing well at my job and meeting targets, my boss once told me that I would do even better if I was more assertive at the workplace,” is a good way to position a weakness in a constructive manner.

Q9: Tell us about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
The answer to this question will tell the interviewer what drives you, your professional values, suitability for the job and how you can make yourself useful to the organization.

Your strategy: It is best to stick to a professional example. Provide numbers where possible — this is a language that interviewers love and understand.

Sample answer: Go with, “I am extremely proud of the time we worked on a project with XXX company. The selection was a gruelling process, but we managed to land the deal. The company needed services that were of the highest standards and I am proud to say that we surpassed their expectations. In fact, we succeeded in converting them into our regular clients. As project leader, I was extremely proud of this achievement.”

Q10: Tell us about a time you made a mistake.
This is amongst the toughest questions because you are being asked to cite a specific instance of failure. It is a behavior-based question that will give the interviewer insight into your personality and the kind of mistakes you are prone to making. It will reveal how you handle failure and whether you are capable of learning from it.

Your strategy: Again, be candid but refrain from citing an ugly truth. Be sure to talk about what you learned from the experience.

Sample answer: “While working for one of my previous employers, there was something I required from another department. Instead of speaking to the department head, I told a member of the team who was my friend. I expected him to go and tell his boss about it, but he didn’t. As a result, the goods weren’t delivered and we missed our target date. There was a great deal of confusion over the episode but thankfully it was all sorted out. From that day on, in all professional matters, I make it a point to communicate directly with the department head,” is a good response.

Conclusion
It’s difficult to determine what questions you’ll be asked in an interview. But you can check with others who may have interviewed/already work with the organization to gauge what your interviewer could want to know. Or cross-reference the job ad with your resume and work out a possible list of questions. The one thing you can be certain of is that if you go in prepared, you are sure to impress an interviewer.

Live Event – How to Get Hired in 6 Weeks !

See for yourself how jobseekers who couldn’t get their foot in the door are getting interviews and getting hired. If you want a great job offer in your hands in the next 6 weeks, this is the webinar for you. Attend this free presentation to learn:

  • Top 3 Most Powerful Resume Improvements
  • How to Write a Compelling Cover Letter
  • How to Find More (and Better) Jobs
  • How to Get Interviews Fast

Click Here To Register For Our Live Webinar

Live Event – How to Get Hired in 6 Weeks !

See for yourself how jobseekers who couldn’t get their foot in the door are getting interviews and getting hired. If you want a great job offer in your hands in the next 6 weeks, this is the webinar for you. Attend this free presentation to learn:

  • Top 3 Most Powerful Resume Improvements
  • How to Write a Compelling Cover Letter
  • How to Find More (and Better) Jobs
  • How to Get Interviews Fast

Click Here To Register For Our Live Webinar

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Live-Webinar1

  • Perfect answers for the 4 most common interview questions
  • How to make them want to offer you the job
  • How to relieve the hiring manager’s 4 secret fears about you
  • An interview technique that will make them beg to hire you

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Live-Webinar1

  • Perfect answers for the 4 most common interview questions
  • How to make them want to offer you the job
  • How to relieve the hiring manager’s 4 secret fears about you
  • An interview technique that will make them beg to hire you

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