10 Best Phone Interview Screening Questions
- Are you still interested and available for the job?It makes sense to ask this question right off the bat so you can determine if the person has found another job or is otherwise out of the market. That way you have only spent a few minutes in closing the case on this applicant.
- Can you tell me what attracted you to apply for this position? This question is a wonderful litmus test that you can use to evaluate how your job opening ranks with the applicant. If the applicant can enthusiastically provide key details about why they applied for your role, you can bet your opportunity is one of only a handful the applicant has applied for – or cares about.
- Here are the (3-4) key requirements for this job. Can you confirm – with specific details – that you meet these requirements?This question gives you key insight into whether or not the applicant has the core qualities you seek from the ideal candidate.
- What are your biggest accomplishments related to this job? Please be specific, describing your role in achieving the accomplishment and key outcomes, quantified when possible.Because many jobseekers are not very good at tracking and recording accomplishments on their resumes, this question forces applicants to provide detailed information about what they consider most important – and what they achieved. Furthermore, as countless academic studies have confirmed that past performance is the best indicator of future behavior, if an applicant can articulate how they’ve achieved success before, you can assume that they will be able to contribute to your company’s success again in times to come.
- Can you tell me about where you are in your job search – and what you hope to accomplish?The answer to this question can provide many insights. First, you’ll learn whether the applicant has applied to multiple positions, whether they have had interviews – and/or job offers, and what the timetable might need to be if you want to bring in this applicant for an on-site interview.
- Describe your ideal working situation (work environment, hours, travel, and the like).A candidate can have the perfect qualifications for a position, but they may want a completely different work/culture/team environment than what you have. Knowing their expectations can help you determine fit. A variation on this question comes from Michael VanDervort, executive director of CUE. Inc.: “What do you look for in your employer, and what do you EXPECT from your employer?”
- What are your salary expectations?From my experience coaching jobseekers, I can assure you many applicants will be unprepared to fully answer this question, but the response will certainly give you an idea of their interest, insights, and self-worth. Not to mention, if their expectations are completely out of line with what’s allocated for the position, you can eliminate them from the pool.
- What is your availability for an interview in the next week to 10 days?This question can result in two pieces of key information. First, how hungry is the applicant? Will they push for an interview sooner? Second, if the applicant is unavailable for your timetable (regardless of the reasons), they may be need to be eliminated.
- Is there anything else relevant to the job and your candidacy that we have not discussed that you want to discuss?This question provides an open door for the jobseeker to make a strong closing argument/case for hire…or to say nothing more. Shannon Randlett, senior manager at Channel Marketing, the Americas, has a slight twist, asking candidates: “Let’s forget our conversation happened, what is the #1 thing you want me to remember about you as it relates to this role?”
- What questions can I answer for you?The response to this question is seen by many as another litmus test. If the applicant has no questions for you, it’s time to consider whether you were the perfect interviewer or whether the applicant is just not that into you. Your intuition here may be critical.
Candidate Pre-Interview Questionnaire
Be prepared for your upcoming interview and prep yourself with this pre-interview questionnaire.
• What do you consider to be the 3 greatest accomplishments you have achieved in your current position (or last position that you have held)?
• What do you consider to be the 3 greatest accomplishments you have achieved in your career?
• What single factor makes you stand out from other engineers with whom you have worked?
• Describe the last major project or a project that you undertook?
• Describe how you got it (was it given to you or did you come up with the idea)?
• Describe what you did and the tools/skills you used.
• What obstacles did you have to overcome and what was the outcome?
• Did you lead, manage or drive the project?
• What do you consider your strengths?
• If I ask you to provide me with your latest performance review and I read it, what would it say about your strengths? What would it say about your need for improvement or weaknesses?
Your Current Position
• What do you like least about your current position, company or situation?
• Why would you leave your present employer, what is motivating you?
• What are the 3 most important criteria, in order of importance, that you would require before you accept a position?
• Some of our clients may require proof of your current salary. Are you prepared to show proof of your current salary if requested?
• What is your current salary?
• Do you get overtime? How much?
• Do you receive a bonus? How much?
• When was your last salary review?
• When is your next salary review?
• What is your vacation period? That is, how many weeks?
• What are your salary expectations? Please justify.
• Are you currently considering any other positions? If so, how close are you to accepting a new position?
• If you are close to accepting a position, please name the company.
• Where have you sent your resume?
• Did you send or post your resume on the internet?
• How long have you been applying for a new position?
• Are you dealing with any other headhunters? How did you come in contact with them?
Your Motivations and Requirements
• Let’s say you do get an offer that meets your criteria and your current employer gives you a counter-offer. What would you do in this situation? Please indicate if you would consider the counter-offer from your current employer (yes, no or potential).
• We are all human and it takes a lot of courage to leave a good position for a better one. Do you really have that courage? (yes, no or maybe)
• On a scale of 1 to 3 (1 being I do not want a new position, 2 being maybe, and 3 being yes, absolutely), where do you rank along a gradient scale? What will it take to move you from a 2 to a 3?
• What might stop you from accepting a job? What considerations would come into play?
• Are you prepared to relocate and what would keep you from moving?
• What type of position would interest you the most?
• Which specific areas/locations would you prefer?
• When can you actually start a new position?
Rank Your Qualities
• Please rank yourself along the gradient scale with respect to the listed qualities.
Leadership 1 ………. 2 ………. 3 ………. 4 ………. 5
Continuous Learner 1 ………. 2 ………. 3 ………. 4 ………. 5
Self-Starter 1 ………. 2 ………. 3 ………. 4 ………. 5
Creative Problem Solver 1 ………. 2 ………. 3 ………. 4 ………. 5
Effective communicator 1 ………. 2 ………. 3 ………. 4 ………. 5
Technical Skill Set (Specific Position Requirements / Keywords)
Resume Key Components
Did you know your resume isn’t about what you want or need? It’s about what you bring to a potential employer. Among the various questions your resume should answer include, “What problem/challenge does the potential employer need me to solve?”
This is your opportunity to toot your horn! Use it!! Less words, more numbers – average time a hiring manager or recruiter gives to a resume is 45 seconds. Numbers make readers stop and actually read. Once they read it, they are engaged with you, once engaged they contact you. This increases interviews and job opportunities.
Here are a few tips to help ensure your resume is read by recruiters and hiring managers.
Formatting & Content
- True header – formatted so it carries to the next page. In the header you should have you name, email, mobile #. (Home phone #’s are not appropriate on a resume, either is a picture, your gender, age or DOB.)
- Length – 2 pages is optimal. If it is longer, make sure the content is valuable and necessary.
- A summary – this should be at the top of your resume. A personal version of an elevator pitch. Strong action words that describe you as a professional individual.
- Company, Title, Location – along with the dates you held the position. Date information should include month and year of start and finish. With out the date you make the recruiter and/or hiring manger struggle to determine your length of service.
- DO NOT list your duties as a job description, your resume is not a version of your job description. Your resume is a catalogue of your achievements. You should concentrate on your accomplishments in each role, every item/statement should be quantifiable. If you can’t put a # against a bullet or statement, re-think it.
- # of jobs//longevity – recommendation for detail is to go back 20 years. If your experience is longer than that, condense pre-20 years.
- College graduation year, Degree (BS, BA etc)
- List before work experience if you have graduated within 5 years, include GPA only if 3.5 or higher.
- After 5 years at the end after professional experience.
- Extra Curricular – Collegiate athlete or activities that could demonstrate leadership and attitude.
- Working while in school – Highlight it! Particularly if you were financially responsible for your education.
Video Interview Tips
Skype, Zoom, FaceTime etc. are being utilized for interviews. Sometimes for the initial call, sometimes in place of an in person meeting due to geography constraints here are few tips to help you prepare and ace a Video interview.
Video Interview Tips
- Double-check your audio, video, and internet connection
- Close all unnecessary web browser tabs/applications
- Angle and eye contact are critical
- Frame yourself from the chest up
- Test all prior to the call
- Pick a distraction-free background
- Make sure you’re in a well-lit room and the interviewer can see you clearly
- Close the door if you are at home – this will ensure no one walks in/behind you (including pets)
- Test this prior to the call
- Dress for the job you want
- Dress the way you would for an in-person interview. This helps you stay in a professional/work mind frame.
- Keep your body language open
- Stay engaged with the screen, maintain eye contact.
- Listen & Pause
- Video (& audio) calls sometimes have a delay, it is very easy to speak over another person. Pay attention, wait for the other person to stop speaking. Pause and then answer/respond.
- Mute the ringer on other phones in the room. Turn notifications sounds off on your mobile and desktop.
- Have a something to write on and with – let the interviewer know that you will be taking notes. Have a printed copy of your resume to refer to during the call.
If your video or audio stops working
Before the interview begins, ask the interviewer for a phone number where you can reach them if you experience technical difficulties. If the video cuts out, call them at that number. Ask if you can continue the interview by phone or if you can reschedule.
Sample Interview Questions
Having interview questions prepared when walking into an interview is crucial and confirms your interest in the company. It is an expectation from employers that you ask questions regarding the company, position, responsibilities, etc. Below are various sample questions that will help guide you to a successful interview.
Sample Interview Questions
- What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?
- Can you give me a detailed overview of the accomplishment?
- Tell me about the company, your title, your position, your role, and the team involved.
- What were the actual results achieved?
- When did it take place and how long did the project take?
- Why were you chosen?
- What were the 3-4 biggest challenges you faced and how did you deal with them?
- Where did you go the extra mile or take the initiative?
- Walk me through the plan, how you managed it, and its measured success.
- Describe the environment and resources.
- Explain your manager’s style and whether you liked it.
- What were the technical skills needed to accomplish the objective and how were they used?
- What were some of the biggest mistakes you made?
- What aspects of the project did you truly enjoy?
- What aspects did you not especially care about and how did you handle them?
- Give examples of how you managed and influenced others.
- How did you change and grow as a person?
- What you would do differently if you could do it again?
- What type of formal recognition did your receive?
- Have a plan
- Start a contact list
- Love List
- Like List
- Starting with the names on the love list, set up face to face meetings (B-L-D)
- Minimum – 5 a week – more than that you are a star!
- How can you help the people you are meeting
- Follow-up – methods
- Your Pitch/What to talk about
- Know your story COLD.
- What can you offer/what do you need
- Be Positive
- Ask Questions
- Find a way to help
- Ask for recommendation
- Know when to shut-up
- Cold Emails/Reach outs
- Targeted Group
- Do your research
- Don’t let the jerks bother you
- Be specific
- Schedule informational sessions (informal conversations)
- Find common ground
- Treat all discussions about your career professionally (don’t pour your heart out – know your agenda)
- Refer to your conversation takeaways in your follow-up
- Listen! To what is said/asked
- Ask to connect without context
- Lose track of your purpose – which is to build a relationship.
- Make a connection and let it go cold
- Put the burden on the person who you are asking for help – make it easy for them to help
- Ever be hesitant to introduce yourself
LinkedIn Profile Tips
- Mind your profile picture and background picture.
Use a high-quality, professional head-shot—preferably 400 by 400 pixels—and make the picture visible to everyone.
To control your visibility, go to your profile and click “Edit public profile and URL” in the upper-right corner. In the right-side column, you’ll see a rundown of your current visibility options. You can make your profile photo visible to your contacts, your network or all LinkedIn members— or you can choose “Public.” When you change your profile picture visibility to “Public,” you make yourself easier to find via search engines or other networks.
Choose a high-quality background picture that conveys something meaningful about you, too. The optimal size for your background image should be 1584 by 396 pixels.
- Write a snappy headline and summary.
In your headline, describe what you do in under 120 characters. Be original and creative, yet also clear and informative. Include relevant industry keywords. That will make you easier to find when people are searching for professionals in your field.
Keep your summary brief and interesting. Revisit and revise it regularly to make sure it’s accurate and timely.
The summary section allows you to add images, videos, documents and links, so add relevant pieces that show off your finest work.
One major trend emerging on LinkedIn is that people are starting to focus on future goals and ambitions. Instead of regurgitating a list of what you accomplished 15 years ago, consider offering an audacious glimpse of your future goals, ideas and objectives.
This is a good tip for those in an early career stage—or for those changing careers—as it shifts the focus to your future instead of your past.
- Include (relevant) workplace information.
Don’t list all your previous jobs—unless they’re relevant to your current gig. Instead, focus on the workplaces and experiences that paint your professional credentials in a positive light.
Remember to update your current position, too. If you’ve received a promotion, won an award, published an article or are involved in an interesting project, it makes sense to update your profile accordingly.
- Insert relevant skills.
Add whatever notable skills, certification or abilities you have, and ask your friends and colleagues to endorse you. Keep in mind: More is not more when it comes to LinkedIn Skills. It’s better to list fewer skills (and gain endorsements on those) than to list a wide array of unendorsed skills.
Update this section regularly—or at least whenever you learn a new skill. You should also delete skills that are no longer relevant to your career interests.
- Edit your URL.
In the upper-right corner of your profile, you’ll see “Edit public profile and URL.” Click it.
This is a chance to tighten and personalize your URL, which will make you easier to find through Google or Bing.
- Add certificates.
Do you have any relevant certifications? Did you graduate from a course or receive any online training?
Don’t be shy about posting them.
- Ask for recommendations.
Substantive, descriptive recommendations from former or current colleagues are perhaps the most persuasive piece of content you can have on your LinkedIn profile. Write recommendations for others freely, and be bold about asking for friends to return the favor.
You can find the buttons for requesting and writing a recommendation by going to your contact’s profile page and clicking the white “More …” button next to “Message.”
- Publish articles.
If you’re looking for search visibility, LinkedIn isn’t necessarily the best place to add articles. However, publishing articles is a great way to show off your expertise.
Try to write a new article at least every three months, and cover topics that are hot in your industry. Pay attention to pictures and title length, too. Your title should not exceed 60 characters.
If you can think of specific people who might enjoy your article, tag them in the message as well. The organic reach of LinkedIn articles is quite low, so adding keywords and tagging people are good ways to increase your reach and help your article gain visibility.
- Optimize your profile’s search visibility.
Like other social media platforms, LinkedIn has an algorithm.
There’s no silver bullet to propel your profile to the top, but there’s plenty you can do to make yourself more visible, such as:
- Include relevant keywords in your headline
- Add your city into your profile
- Insert impressive work samples
- Complete your contact information
- Showcase volunteer or charitable interests
- Join industry-centric groups
Personal branding seems to be the big buzz lately. So, what does it mean and what do you need to consider? Kudos to Stephen Covey for this one, as you should “begin with the end in mind.” What do you want people to know about you?
It is generally acknowledged that the use of technology and social media in much of the world is ubiquitous and plays a significant role in our daily life. According to Erik Qualman, author of Social Media Revolution, “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.”
Indeed, social media is playing a major role in personal branding, but it certainly is not everything.
Business cards are still a component of personal branding, yet many people don’t realize the power of this small piece of paper. There are many things to consider when designing a business card. Here are some tips that may be helpful.
On the front of the business card, you may want to include the following:
- title, so people know what you do
- cell phone and/or office phone
- email address
- website, if you have one (and you can create one for free at www.about.me)
- LinkedIn URL, which you should make sure you customize BEFORE you get your business cards printed
- tag line, which is a “permanent” line for your business instead of a slogan that is typically used with a single marketing campaign (This should state what you do and differentiate you from your competition and show how you are unique with your values and benefits. Further tagline considerations are noted below.)
- logo or graphic that symbolizes you or perhaps a professional photograph
- color(s) that will be memorable
- glossy or matte finish
- physical address if you have a brick and mortar location, but perhaps not necessary if you are consulting.
Many people are missing out on an opportunity for an advertisement by not including information on the back of their business card. Here are some things to consider for the back:
- light background color—so people can write the date and location of where they met you
- matte background, not glossy—so when people write, the ink does not smear
- blank space to write
- inclusion of a value proposition
- addition of a QR code.
Remember: First impressions count, so get a quality business card printed by a professional company.
Your LinkedIn headline should be treated like Manhattan real estate because you only have 120 characters, and it is your SEO (search engine optimization) location on your profile. This is your personal branding—your expertise, your core values, and your value proposition. You can exude your personality along with key words that allow you to be findable and may help differentiate you from others. Here are a few more tips:
- Make sure you space the words and any punctuation or symbols properly, so there are no misspellings. Also, don’t abbreviate words, such as Mgr for Manager. Change sales/marketing (without the spaces before and after the slash) to sales / marketing. Although our human eye understands the verbiage and punctuation, you need to leave spaces between slashes (“/”), dashes (“-“), commas, and pipes (“|”).
- If you are in career transition, you might want to avoid using “seeking opportunity.”(You don’t want to appear desperate.)
- Symbols can be a fun touch and add the froufrou to your profile, but remember to use spaces before and after them -♛ ✆ ☎ ✉ ☛ ★ ✔ ◊ ♦ ► ◄ ↔ ☆ ★ ♫ ■ ◆ ✪ ✰ ✔ ✘☐ ☑ ☒ ☚ ☜ ☝ ☞ ☟ ⇨ »
- Taglines require a lot of thought and you should run your ideas by others to get opinions. Start with a list of verbs that will convey action to start your story (build, consult, develop, earn, focus, grow, help, keep, partner, transform). Next, consider the key benefits that will be derived (less stress, more support, save time, more power, find a solution, improve potential, gain freedom, achieve success).
- Create a list of industry-specific jargon. Some questions to address include:
- What are your strengths or unique selling points?
- Combine words in different combinations
- Is it visually appealing?
- Is it memorable and easy to say?
- Does it generate positive feelings?
- Is it unusable by competitors?
As a virtual assistance business, our tagline is “Our passion will let you pursue yours.” Okay, so we broke the rule of not starting the sentence with a verb, but we like it! So where can you get help to get key words for your business card, headline, and tagline? Here are some useful links:
- wordle.net(for a word cloud)
- tagcrowd.com(for a word cloud)
Although there are many more things to think about for personal branding, this will at least give you a start in case you are in the process of reinventing yourself!
Networking Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making
Preparing For A Behavioral Assessment: Example Questions
ABILITY TO HANDLE STRESS
- What has been the most stressful situation you have ever found yourself in at work? How did you handle it?
- What have you done in the past to prevent a situation from becoming too stressful for you or your colleagues to handle?
- Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a colleague’s working style in order to complete a project or achieve your objectives.
- How was your transition from high school to university? Did you face any particular problems? How did you handle them?
ANALYTICAL SKILLS / PROBLEM SOLVING
- Describe the project or situation that best demonstrates your analytical abilities. What was your role?
- Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. What kind of thought process did you go through? Was the recommendation accepted? If not, why?
- Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. What did you do? What was the outcome? What do you wish you had done differently?
- What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision? Why?
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
- What process do you use to check that you have the right details from a customer?
- Give me an example of a time you discovered an error that been overlooked by a colleague. What did you do? What was the outcome?
- Tell me about a time that you were confused by a customer’s request. What steps did you take to clarify things?
CLIENT FOCUS / CUSTOMER ORIENTATION
- When have you had to deal with an irate customer? What did you do? How did the situation end up?
- Tell me about a time you have “inherited” a customer. What steps did you take to establish rapport with them? What did you do to gain their trust?
- How have you handled a situation in the past where your client has changed the brief or “changed the goalposts”?
- Give an example of a time you went well out of your way to ensure a customer received the best possible service from you and organization. What was their reaction?
- When have you ever gone out on a limb to defend a customer? What happened?
- Tell me about a recent successful experience in making a speech or presentation?
- When have you had to present to a group of people with little or no preparation? What obstacles did you face? How did you handle them?
- Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your co-workers? How did you do it?
- Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
- What obstacles or difficulties have you ever faced in communicating your ideas to a manager?
- Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills in order to get an important point across.
- When have you chosen to communicate a particular message in person as opposed to via email even though the email channel would have been a lot faster?
- When was the last time you thought “outside the box” and how did you do it? Why?
- Tell me about a problem that you’ve solved in a unique or unusual way. What was the outcome? Were you happy or satisfied with it?
- Give me an example of when someone brought you a new idea that was odd or unusual. What did you do?
- When have you brought an innovative idea into your team? How was it received?
- Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all the information you needed. How did you handle it?
- Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision. What obstacles did you face?
- What is the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make at work? How did you arrive at your decision? What was the result?
- Give me an example of a business decision you made that you ultimately regretted. What happened?
- Give me an example of an important career goal which you set yourself and tell me how you reached it. What obstacles did you encounter? How did you overcome the obstacles?
- Tell me about a professional goal that you set that you did not reach. How did it make you feel?
- How have you gone about setting short-term goals and long-term goals for yourself or your team? What steps did you take along the way to keep yourself accountable?
- Describe a project or idea (not necessarily your own) that was implemented primarily because of your efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome?
- Describe a situation in which you recognized a potential problem as an opportunity. What did you do? What was the result? What, if anything, do you wish you had done differently?
- Tell me about a project you initiated. What did you do? Why? What was the outcome? Were you happy with the result?
- Tell me about a time when your initiative caused a change to occur.
- What has been the best idea you have come up with during your professional career?
- Discuss a time when your integrity was challenged. How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time when you experienced a loss for doing what is right. How did you react?
- Tell me about a business situation when you felt honesty was inappropriate. Why? What did you do?
- Give a specific example of a policy you conformed to with which you did not agree. Why?
- Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How/why was this person difficult? How did you handle it? How did the relationship progress?
- Describe a situation where you found yourself dealing with someone who didn’t like you. How did you handle it?
- Describe a recent unpopular decision you made. How was it received? How did you handle it?
- What, in your opinion, are the key ingredients in guiding and maintaining successful business relationships? Give me examples of how you have made these work for you.
- Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa). How did you handle the situation?
- Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team with someone you did not get along with. What happened?
- Describe a situation where you had a conflict with another individual, and how you dealt with it. What was the outcome? How did you feel about it?
- Tell me about a team project when you had to take charge of the project? What did you do? What was the result?
- Describe a leadership role of yours outside of work. Why did you commit your time to it? How did you feel about it?
- What is the toughest group that you have ever had to lead? What were the obstacles? How did you handle the situation?
- What has been your greatest leadership achievement in a professional environment? Talk through the steps you took to reach it.
- What have been the greatest obstacles you have faced in building/growing a team?
- Describe a time when you have not only been responsible for leading a team of people but for also doing the same job as your team members? How did you juggle/balance your time?
PLANNING AND ORGANISATION / TIME MANAGEMENT
- Describe a situation that required you to do a number of things at the same time. How did you handle it? What was the result?
- How do you prioritize projects and tasks when scheduling your time? Give me some examples.
- Tell me about a project that you planned. How did your organize and schedule the tasks? Tell me about your action plan.
- When has a project or event you organized not gone according to plan? What happened? Why? How did you feel?
SALES / NEGOTIATION
- Tell me about your previous success in building a customer base from a standing start. What steps did you take?
- What is your greatest sales-related achievement to date? What steps led to the final outcome?
- Describe a time when you convinced a resistant customer to utilize your services.
- What was the most stressful professional negotiation you have been involved in? How did you handle it?
- Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
- Tell me about a time when you worked with a colleague who was not doing their share of the work. How did you handle it?
- Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or help others to compromise. What was your role? What steps did you take? What was the result?
- Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team that did not get along. What happened? What role did you take? What was the result?
- What was the biggest mistake you have made when delegating work as part of a team project?
- Tell me about a time when you had settle a dispute between team members. How did you go about identifying the issues? What was the result?
- What have you found to be the difficult part of being a member, not leader, of a team? How did you handle this?
TENACITY / RESILIENCE
- Tell me about a particular work-related setback you have faced. How did you deal with it?
- When have you ever found yourself in a competitive situation professionally? How did you handle it?
- When have you seen your tenacity or resilience really pay off in a professional setting? What was the outcome?