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Dreaded Phone Interview

Here comes the dreaded phone interview !

It is critical that you understand what your goal and purpose is when you undergo your first phone screening interview with a company.

Your goal is simple … to get a personal interview!

The phone interview is not to get the job. You may be many steps away from getting the job, and if you get too far ahead of yourself, you may never make it to another interview. Walk through the interviewing process a step at a time.

HR’s goal is also simple. To screen you out!

Here’s the reason. HR has a lot people to talk to, especially in this challenged economic market.


Say HR has 1000 people applying for a single job opportunity. HR has whittled down the 1000 applicants to 100 actual persons that make it to be considered for hiring. After a bit more scrutiny, HR whittles some more potential candidates and gets the stack of applicants down to 20.


From these 20 applicants, HR needs to screen them through a phone interview to find 5 strong applicants to present to the hiring manager. From these 5 applicants, HR hopes to find 2 or 3 qualified persons to make it to the next round.


How does HR do the whittling?
Throughout the process, HR looks for red flags or factors where you are not confident, not direct, or not determined in your approach toward getting the job.  
Yes, HR is looking to knock you out of the running, especially if you do not believe you are qualified.


How does HR screen you?  HR has prepared questions or uses a rating system. HR may score your responses on a simple 1 - 5 scale.

Don't get so involved in your responses that HR gets confused or weary.  Answer the questions posed to you, but don't keep rambling to the point where you supply too much information.  HR may be running a simple checklist and scoring your responses.


Sadly, in the phone interview, HR seeks to find reasons for what is wrong with a potential candidate so that the candidate can be screened out from the job opportunity.

What you must do in order to succeed in the dreaded phone interview leading to the face-to-face interview

Keep your answers simple, concise, and direct.  If you are asked why you are qualified for the position as a team leader, state that you are approachable, articulate, and can provide employees with cross-training in sales, service and productivity.

If asked, supply more detail.  However, if the interviewer moves on to the next question, it means he or she is satisfied with the response, and you don't need to say more until the face-to-face interview.

Prepare a story to support your answer when you get to the face-to-face interview.  Take a couple notes yourself in order to remember your response.  You can write down key words like "approachable" and "articulate", and then create a specific story to relate to the face-to-face interviewer.  For instance, you can represent how  Fred, one of your associates, approached you with a question regarding how to service a key customer.  Because you are "approachable" and "articulate", Fred knew that you could inform him on how to meet the customer's specific need for assistance with inventory management.

Contributed by Carl Schumacher and Kenn Kirby

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