The telephone job interview is often used as an initial candidate screening method after an employer receives several applications for a job posting. Typically, those candidates who "pass" the phone interview are offered a face-to-face interview.
How Does a Phone Interview Help the Employer Make a Decision?
There are a number of things employers may be looking to find out when they conduct a phone interview with you:
- Fill in missing information or clarify details: Hopefully, you've put together a well-organized, consistent resume that tells a prospective employer exactly what kind of experience you have, where you worked and when. If the hiring manager thinks you might be a good fit, but certain elements are missing and he or she is having trouble gleaning some specific information from your resume, they may call you up to give you a chance to explain.
- Determine whether you have the right qualifications: Particularly in technical interviews, an employers may ask specific questions to give you a chance to demonstrate your knowledge of a certain area, or ask you to provide examples of certain situations and how you handled them. They may also present a technical problem and ask you to take them through the process of solving it. These questions help them determine whether you are capable of performing the job and working through a problem in a logical way.
- Find out how interested you are in the position: With so many resumes coming in for one position, the employer doesn't want to invite a candidate to a face-to-face interview when that person really isn't that excited about the position in the first place. Any questions regarding potential start dates will help provide clues as to how eager you are to take on the position, and general enthusiasm about the position throughout the interview will also help show the employer that you're genuinely interested in the opportunity.
- Assess how good of a communicator you are: The communication abilities we're talking about here are on a basic level - the employer would like to know how well you can talk about your previous job experiences, how well you listen and respond to specific questions, and how well you can come up with good questions to ask the interviewer.
- Determine whether they can afford you: Employers don't want to take candidates through a full-blown interview process, only to discover that the person they're interested in hiring has much higher salary expectations than what the employer is willing or able to offer. During the phone interview, the interviewer will sometimes ask about your salary history to get a sense of how much you may be expecting to earn, or they may mention a specific salary, or a salary range, and then ask if that's something you're willing to accept. This gives you a chance to decide, on the spot, whether you're truly interested in pursuing the opportunity any further.
- Figure out how the candidate will fit within the company: Often, employers are looking for people with not only the right technical skills, but also a particular personality type, since they know what kind of person will thrive in the environment they already have set up, or within a team of existing employees. Questions related to preferences in one's work environment and how a candidate would relate to one's peers will help narrow down the list of applicants.