Be Prepared When You Are Called By A Potential Employer.

You will quickly know if the interviewer is organized or disorganized in their approach. The better interviewers will explain why they are calling and what they want to accomplish. Disorganized interviewers dive right in without asking if you have time to speak, and sometimes they don’t have your resume. Better interviewers will want to know if you have some time to talk to them.

If you are in a noisy room, it is best to ask for the caller’s number and offer to call right back. This way, you can go to a quiet room, compose yourself, have your resume and references handy, and be better prepared to have a positive discussion.

Setting the tone when you call back

By choosing to call back, you show that you want to handle the call professionally. Display an attitude of willing cooperation to provide information for the employer to assess you. After you introduce yourself, ask an open-ended question to determine what the employer wants to accomplish.

“How would you like to proceed?”
“What would you like to know first about me?”
“How can I help you?”

These types of questions signal to the interviewer that you are both ready to give information, and that you want to make the best use of their time. Small courtesies help establish rapport with a stranger on the telephone. A little deference goes a long way to making a positive impression.

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Here Are Examples Of Open-Ended Questions.

  • How do you see my experience and what you are looking for in the person you’re hiring?
  • What do you think is the most important requirement for this job?
  • What are you looking for in the person you hire?
  • What qualities does the company look for in the people they hire?
  • How would you describe the company’s work culture?
  • What is going to be the most challenging aspect of the job on a daily basis?
  • How will a typical day unfold in this position?
  • What types of problems will I be involved in solving?
  • Who will I work with inside and outside of the company?
  • Why do people like working here?

Ending with an open-ended question allows you to gather information about their expectations, needs and business priorities.

“Why Do You Want To Work For Us?”

This is another tricky question which probes for what is motivating you to interview for the job, and tells the interviewer if you have at all researched the company and understand who they are and what they do.

A few minutes spent reviewing their website, press releases, mission statement, community involvement and present progress helps you determine why you want to work for them, and gives you a rich resource of information on which to base your questions.

If it is because of their market position, the way they serve their customers, or the esteem in which they are held in the community, tell them that you identify with their style and methods of doing business. Point out the new projects they have, the causes they support that you identify with, the interest you have in joining forces and how your career path is inline with their corporate growth goals.

Invest time in learning about them and then ask questions to develop a deeper understanding about the company. This step puts you in a different light to applicants who do not see the advantages of exploring the company’s strengths  and progress with the interviewer. It is an excellent way to create buyer interest in the employer because many people do not ask these types of questions.

How Do You Handle The Question,”So, Tell Us About Yourself?”

This question invites you to summarize your strengths, weaknesses, experience, skills and knowledge. It isn’t a casual question. It can trip you up if you decide to tell the interviewer your life history, and lose focus. Keep it brief, concise and finish with an open-ended question.

If you are asked this type of question, you can qualify it by asking, “What would you like to know first?”. The interviewer’s response gives you clues to what they want to talk about. You can then tailor your reply to the areas of interest indicated.

Briefly, tell them how your industry experience, credentials, knowledge and track record represent the value you bring as your unique contribution to the employer. Highlight the personal values/standards that you work from in your business life. Tell them what you believe is the foundation for your success Describe your professionalism, flexibility,  and why people like working with you.

1. Summarize your industry experience and credentials – this serves as the basis for why you are applying for the job.
2. Link that experience to what the job requirements and duties are – create the basis for mutual interest.
3. Explain how you conduct yourself in business terms – what is important to you in working with people; your business personality.
4. Transition to a personal interests statement:, “On the personal side, I am / I believe __________”.

Here’s an example of a brief introduction:

“I’ve been in the ___ industry for the past 10 years, starting in the ____ department , then worked my way up through the ranks to the position I have now where I’m responsible for ____, _____,____ and _____. Along the way I learned the importance of continuous learning and always being open to new challenges. That’s why I’m here today to see if there is a good fit between my experience and what you’re looking for. I’ve read the job description carefully and I think I can bring value to the organization. On the personal side, I believe in going that extra mile for the customer to solve their problems. Joining a company that shares that approach is the kind of opportunity that I’m looking for.”

Follow up your 60 second introduction with an open-ended question to gather information about how your thumbnail sketch compares to the background, experience and business values the employer is looking for:

“What would you like to know about my job at _________?”
“What do you think of my experience and how it fits your needs?”

Your passion, enthusiasm, confidence and focus create a positive initial impression to build on with the interviewer.

The Courage To Tell The Truth

If you were terminated for cause from your previous position for any reason, be upfront about it. Admittedly, this is hard to do and it requires moral strength. Honesty and integrity are character strengths that are valued by all fair-minded employers, and your courage to tell the truth without spinning the facts will gain the respect of the interviewer. If they see self-awareness and accountability in your attitude toward mistakes made, they may choose to give you the opportunity to prove yourself once again. Sincerity can overcome many obstacles.

If you were terminated for circumstances beyond your control, such as global restructuring or downsizing, ensure that you have your termination letter with you. If your ex-employer didn’t provide one, obtain it from the human resources department of the company, or your ex-manager if company policy permits this.

If you left due to a “mutual parting of ways”, clarify what led to your departure. If it was a lack of chemistry with a new manager, differences in opinion of business procedure, their expectations of performance not realized, describe the situation objectively, in few words. Simple honesty communicates clearly to other people, and your sincerity will be transmitted to the interviewer.

Keep The Conversation Flowing.

Even the most confident people may experience a moment of awkward silence in an interview when the conversation stops. To avoid this, use open-ended questions (usually beginning with who, what, where, when, why, how, etc.) to encourage a flow of information and a method of transitioning smoothly from one topic to the next. Closed questions are answered with a simple “yes” or “no”; they confirm or establish facts. You gather more valuable information asking, “How will my training unfold?” instead of “Will there be training?” Open-ended questions allow you to gather details and impressions and subtly guide the discussion into areas of interest.

Establish Rapport And Interest.

Astute sales professionals quickly scan the contents of a decision-maker’s office, looking for items that provide clues to the occupant’s interests, hobbies, causes they support, or unusual sculptures,  artwork, and so on.

They will casually draw attention to these items as a way to break the ice and establish the human connection  because people like to talk about what interests them. This helps to establish personal chemistry as they then gradually, comfortably shift the focus back to the main purpose of their meeting. Establishing rapport paves the way for a productive interview.