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Unfortunately, many job seekers do not prepare for telephone interviews as rigorously as they prepare for face-to-face interviews; thus the casualty toll is heavy.
You must view any telephone interview as an opportunity to leave the herd of job seekers behind you. Almost immediately, the caller is trying to reduce the applicant prospects to a few finalists, getting knocked out of the running is very easy at this stage.
I suggest the following four items be kept close to your telephone:
1) A current copy of your resume
2) A list of key points, such as specific skills and achievements that you want to be sure that you mention
3) A calendar, or day planner, with all scheduled commitments
4) Plenty of pens, notepads and a calculator for quick math tabulations.
Occasionally, an interviewer may express during the initial phone screening a concern regarding your education, or your past employment. I suggest that one of the best ways to respond once a concern has been expressed is with the Feel – Felt - Found sequence.
For example you can say, ‘I understand how you feel about my educational background. My first employer felt the same way. What my supervisors found was that my skills and dedication to the job were much more important than the number of college units I had.’
The first sentence acknowledges feelings, the second reinforces the first with an example, and the third gives a specific response. Try it the next time you encounter an objection. You will discover that the Feel – Felt - Found sequence is a powerful way to respond in an interview.
Use your own words and language that’s appropriate to the situation, but remember this 3-step sequence for handling concerns.
Another productive way to respond is before a concern is even expressed. If your research on the company indicates that a college degree is highly valued within the company you are interviewing with, acknowledge that openly – you might say ‘I know that most people you hire have a BA.’ ‘And I want you to know that I was traveling and working in Europe while most of my contemporaries were getting their degrees. That gave me a cultural sensitivity that might be important in a multinational company like this. Plus with my work history and the professional courses I have taken bring you both the talent and the motivation to excel in this position.’
During your first interview remember that you want to answer the interviewer’s questions, but also you want to make sure you get the information you need regarding the position and company. Coming to this realization will assist you in asking appropriate questions and keep the interview moving in the right direction.