Before the main event of a face-to-face interview, it isn’t uncommon for companies to narrow down the pool of candidates by conducting an initial telephone interview.
Having spoken to recruiters who have conducted thousands of telephone interviews, I’ve compiled a list of 10 of my favourite silly answers they have received to the simplest of questions.
Q1. Can you tell me where the job is based that you applied for?
A. “Next to Asda.”
Q2. How large was the last organisation you worked for?
A. “About 3 floors”
Q3. Why did you leave your last job?
A. “The boss was very needy, he micromanaged me and I was never allowed to leave bang on time. In the end I just couldn’t be arsed to be honest”
Q4. Can you tell me why you want to join the organisation you’ve applied for?
A. “Two seconds, I’ve just got to pay this woman behind the counter.”
Q5. Can you bring your references with you to the interview?
A. “I’m not sure, I’ll have to see if they can get the time off work”
Q6. What don’t you like about your current job?
A. “Where do I start? The early starts, the people I work with, the commute, my crappy computer, the lack of decent coffee in the kitchen, do you want anymore?”
Q7. What is your biggest weakness?
Q8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
A. “If I get this job I will stay with the company 2 years max and then move on and do the same at the next company.”
Q9. Would you say you were responsible?
A. “Ah, easy one this. I often say I am responsible, because every time something goes wrong in a place I work at, I’m told that I am responsible”
Q10. Tell me a little bit about your job history.
A. “Hold on, you’ve had my CV for 2 weeks now and you want to know about my job history? Typical lazy recruitment consultant, why can’t you do your job, eh?”
And here’s a bonus, Spinal Tap inspired extra one:
Q11. Where did you see the position advertised?
A. “On my laptop”
Advice and tips.
So, how you can avoid the mistakes above? These are obviously extreme examples, but even the most astute of people can fluff their lines during a telephone interview.
The key to preparing for a telephone interview is to treat it just like a regular interview. You never know when a recruiter might call and ask if you have a few minutes to talk, so it is imperative that you are prepared.
Don’t panic if a recruiter does call you out of the blue – if it’s not convenient to talk, arrange a time later in the day to buy you some time in getting ready for the call.
Put together a list of your strengths and weaknesses and some snappy answers to typical phone interview questions.
Make sure you have your CV handy and that you can’t be interrupted whilst you are on the phone. Here are some additional tips that could come in handy:
1. If the time isn’t convenient, ask if you could talk at another time and suggest some alternatives.
2. Clear the room and close the door to ensure there isn’t any background noise or kids snapping at your ankles
3. Try to use a landline – this makes most people sound more confident than using a mobile phone
4. Get somebody to ring you to do a mock phone interview and get them to give you some constructive feedback
5. Don’t chew gum during the telephone interview
6. Do have a glass of water handy
7. Smile during the telephone interview, this will project a positive image to the listener the tone of your voice will also be uplifted
8. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly
9. Don’t interrupt the telephone interviewer
10. Take your time – it’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts
11. Give short answers
12. Remember your goal is to set up a face-to-face interview
13. After you thank the interviewer ask if it would be possible to meet in person
14. Take notes about what you were asked and how you answered
15. Remember to say “thank you”
16. Follow up with a thank you note which reiterates your interest in the job
At the end of the telephone interview the end goal is obviously to secure a face-to-face interview, so remember to come across confidently and get across your knowledge, skills, abilities and accomplishments as succinctly as you can.