Phone interview: First contact

Phone interview: First contact

Hi guys! This is Cesc Derrill and welcome back to my newest article!

In my previous article I explained how to deal with recruiters. If you have been successful with an application the most natural next step will be a phone interview… oh my god! First contact!

Now, I know in some cases this step is skipped or replaced by a short call to arrange a face-to-face interview. I would say the norm is that the bigger the organisation the most probable it is that you will go through a phone interview first.

If you are like me you will be both excited and terrified. Take deep breaths and prepare for it.

Prepare your environment

With that I am not referring to light scent candles and have a bath with rose petals. We are not at that stage yet darling.

The first thing to do is to set the time and date at a time in which you know you will be free, comfortable and that you will be able to have some privacy. Here you will have some pressure as yours and their calendar might have constant conflicts. I recommend to make an effort and agree the earliest time and date. They will probably be looking at other people and calling first dips is always a good strategy, otherwise you risk them cancelling your interview due to having enough candidates.

You might be expected to write so ideally you will be sitting down with a laptop or with pen and notebook. You should be alone in a closed room isolated from high noise.

Now you will tell me: “Cesc, I am a very busy person I don’t have time to make such preparations”. Well excuse me, Miss Thing! I am talking in ideal terms and situation. I have been in situations in which I have had to squeeze an interview between meetings. Just do your best and make sure to use your own personal time so you can have a more relax conversation.

Prepare the content

Ok, now you have to prepare the content for the interview. What do I mean by preparing the content? This is an internal thinking of probable things that you will need to address during the interview.

Print a copy of the job spec for the interview and of your CV and have them side by side. Do a matching exercise and identify their requirements in your CV. Some will be direct and might even have the same exact words. Some others might be more tricky to demonstrate so I recommend you manually write your justification on how you comply to them. What if there is something you do not currently comply with? Just be honest and explain what you plan to do to compensate or to comply to it ASAP. Never lie! You will get caught on your own lie and it is not worth it.

When you do the phone interview they will probably ask you to drive them through your CV which is great! This a chance for you to talk about yourself and we all love talking about ourselves! Well most of us.

Just go through it highlighting your tasks and achievements. They may ask you to clarify things or to explain things further, that shouldn’t be tricky. The complication arrives when they ask you tricky questions.

Tricky questions

Most of people get uncomfortable when asked certain questions:

Why did you leave that job?

This question is tricky by many different reasons: you might not want to say bad things about a company or you may have been made redundant.

If you left a company because you were not happy with the company you can say so without having to throw shade. You can say you left because you wanted to further your skills somewhere else, or you can say that there was no more career progression for you in that company and the only way to advance in your career was to make a move.

If you were made redundant on a company, don’t panic. First of all, being made redundant is not your fault, that is normally a company decision to reduce their overheads to put some make up on their finances. You should not be afraid to say it and you can justify saying it that your company decided to prioritise cutting heads on specific departments or on a specific demographic.

Why didn’t you do “y” or “z”?

Many times, and depending on whether the interviewer had their morning coffee or not, the interviewer may pretend they know better and question certain aspects of your career.

If it is related to a job on a company you can easily deviate the bullet by saying that it was your company policy and that there was little room for you to deviate.

If it is related to your training or education you can simply say that time and money played a factor on obtaining such. Additionally you can refer on how you compensate it or how you are intending on dealing with it.

What do you know about our company?

Companies think that if you are applying for a job with them is because they are the most important company in the world and that you should know about them. When in reality you might have just heard their name for the first time a week ago.

Make sure that before going to any shape of interview you do a little research about the company. I would say that for a phone interview dedicate 30 min on their website to learn about their offering, USPs, recent news and locations.

Just give them a generic answer based on what you have seen on their website (you can have it written down). I do not recommend asking them a question back pretending to want to know more as it is perceived as pretentious.

Do you have any questions for me/us?

Now here is open season for you. I recommend asking 2 questions or 3 maximum. Here you are allowed to ask them about their company. I recommend asking to know more about the team you would be working with. It is also good to ask about the work culture. Or if there is anything that has not yet been discussed like company benefits, working hours, and such this is a good time to do so.


Ok guys, this is it for now. Now if you have any questions or comments so please leave them down below and I will try to answer you the best I can.

Have a lovely day and until the next article.

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