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INTERVIEW PREP DOCUMENT - Phone Interview tips


Telephone interview


  • Research - Prior to the phone call, research their website at length.  Financials, 10K, Annual report with special emphasis on the Chairman's letter.
  • Why are you Interviewing? - Know the reason why you would like to work at the company
  • Laundry List - Have a list of accomplishments and pertinent skills in front of you and know why you are a fit for the job.  If you can not articulate this you may not get to the face to face interview.
  • Privacy Please - Schedule the interview at a time and number where you can be alone and talk freely.  Land lines are better than mobile phones whenever possible.   (Make sure the dog doesn't bark in the background.)
  • Resume at the Ready - Be sure to have your resume in front of you so you can follow along with your background as they ask you questions.
  • Be Honest - Answer questions as directly as possible.  If you do not know, say so.  Be candid, friendly, cheerful and courteous. Confident but not cocky.  If you sense that the other person wants to do lots of talking ? let them.  People like others who are interested in hearing them talk!
  • Next Step? - At the end of the interview, try to get a face to face interview.  Ask what is the next step before hanging up the call.
  • Address Weaknesses - If you can, find out from the interviewer what they feel your strong points and weaknesses may be.  This way, in the face to face interview you can reemphasize the strong points and address any perceived weaknesses.

Face-to-face interview

  • Be Prepared - Prior to your visit, educate yourself about the company. Go through their web site and write down several questions that come to mind. Look them up on Google. Know the reason why you'd like to work at the company. People notice when you have knowledge of their company and/or products.  Research the individuals on LinedIn, Myspace, ZoomInfo.
  • Know Your Directions - Make sure the directions you received are accurate.  Nothing says, "I'm not prepared" like getting lost on the way to an interview.  Arriving 20 minutes early is a way to ensure you will not be late.  Just wait outside the office until 3 minutes before the interview, then make your grand entrance exactly on time.  (Use the extra time to review the job description, your resume, and go to the bathroom and make sure you are presentable.)
  • PRACTICE  Practice your interview skills - that means answering the interview questions out loud to yourself as if you were in the interview.  Running through your answers a few times builds confidence and assures yourself you will come across as articulate, efficient and prepared.  
  • 5 Resume Copies - Take at least 5 copies of your resume - you'll be prepared if they do not have copies.
  • Take Notes - Bring a nice note pad to take notes.  Have your top 5 questions written down on the pad before you get to the interview.
  • Dress Code - Know the office dress code. Look sharp and professional.  Being overdressed is always better than being underdressed.  Unless they state that you should come in wearing business casual, both men and women should always opt for the traditional business suit as their interview attire.
  • Confidence - Firm handshake upon arrival and positive attitude throughout.
  • Be enthusiastic and friendly. Listen more than you talk (no single factor is more important in determining success in an interview).
  • Eye Contact - Look people in the eye when talking or listening to them.
  • Just Listen - No single thing you can do will effect the interview more than just being a good listener.  Listen to questions asked of you.  Answer them fully and directly.  Do not talk too much.  Never over sell your skill set.
  • Salary - If present salary is asked, furnish accurate information including bonuses and commissions. They may ask for a W2 later, so you don't want to enhance any numbers!  If they ask you what salary you want, the only acceptable answer at this point is "I am open to any fair and reasonable offer".
  • Nothing Negative - Do not criticize or come across as negative about your present or past employers or co-workers.  Stay professional and avoid personal information unless it's "polite" conversation.  
  • Ask for the job! - Let the interviewer know that you are interested and excited at the prospect of working for them and ask what the next step will be.
  • Send a thank you letter - Ask for their Card so you can follow up with a thank you letter - A good Thank you letter can often be the deal breaker on getting the position. 

Some Questions You May Hear in the Interview:

  • Tell me about yourself.  They are looking for a concise, descriptive, and informative summary of more current and relevant career information, not long past personal information. Give your "30 second commercial"
  • Why do you want to work at XYZ Company? This is where your website and company history homework pays off.  Give examples of specifics that you have found on their site, OR past projects that you enjoyed that apply.
  • What is your proudest accomplishment/ What are your greatest strengths?   This is your turn to brag a bit, but not to the point of being arrogant.   At least 2 examples, offer references that can attest to your work, etc.  The more specifics you can offer, the better you look.  Bring up sales numbers, deadlines, $ Savings, whatever is measurable and speaks well of your efforts.
  • What would you classify as an area of improvement, and how would you go about achieving those improvements?   Try to pick something that isn't a "DEAL KILLER" meaning something that IS NOT a job requirement, and that is not easily improved upon.  Lots of folks choose something that is indirectly related to the role so that it doesn't affect your interview success.  For example:  "I realize this position requires a great deal of systems reporting experience and you work with system "x".  I do have considerable experience with reporting, but up to now, there has not been a requirement for me to learn "system x".  I can pick it up very quick as I do with all systems.  At this time, I would have to say an area of improvement would be the learning curve on your particular software system."
  • What is the Salary you are looking for?  It is always best to leave the door open and answer with something such as, I would be happy to see your best offer. I am fairly flexible when it comes to the compensation since I am looking at everything including the company, the position, the growth potential, the benefit package, etc.  Salary is just one piece of the pie and if you think I would be a good fit for the position, I am SURE we can come up with a figure that works for both of us!"
  • Why you are leaving?  Be honest, very concise and direct, but don't slam your employer or boss.  They want to hear that you are leaving on good terms (for everyone, not just you!) since it can easily be them on the other end of the equation if they hire you.
  • Why should we hire you for the position?  Summarize, detail, sell yourself, and ask for an offer!   Give technical reasons why you are the best candidate over personality reasons.  
  • Sales positions:  In certain sales position, you may be asked to perform a sample sales pitch for the product, and once again, this is where your preparation and website/company/product research will shine. 

Questions you may want to ask (choose 1 or 2)

  • VERY IMPORTANT- "Lets calibrate. Please tell me about the open position."
  • Why is this position open?
  • Where do you seen the company in 5 years?
  • What makes you successful, and different from your competitors?
  • How long have you (the interviewer) been here, and what do you like most about your position, and the company?
  • What qualities would your ideal candidate have?  (listen, and make sure you later bring out some of the qualities you have which match what you heard)
  • How do you feel my qualifications match your needs?


*  Lets calibrate... Please tell me about the position?

* Are you the hiring manager?  Who is?
*  What are you looking for in a person for this opportunity?

*  What are the requirements of this position.

*  What are the major priorities of the job?

*  What are the first things that need to get addressed?
*  Is there anything that needs to get addressed IMMEDIATELY??

*  What resources are available to achieve goals?
*  How will I be measured?
*  What did you (The interviewer) experience in your first few weeks with the company?

*  Where do you see me in 5 years?

*  Anything that stands out as a problem for me with this opportunity?

*  Do you perceive we have a connection here?  Can we work together?

*  Next steps? Time lines?

-  What have you done right as a company?  Wrong?

-  COMPETITION??   Status?

-  What do you think you need to change?

-  Technical Sales only?  Structure?  Who, What, When, Where, Why?

-  Channel strategy? 

-  Partner Strategy?  Resellers?  ISVs?

-  Web Front Status?  Order off of web.


-  My EXIT strategy.  What if you get an offer you can't refuse??  What happens to me?

-  Strategy for acquiring new customers??

-  Target markets?  Verticals?  Horizontals? 

-  Access to new capital? 

-  Work environment?  Office?  Home office?

-  Title?

-  Other individuals being considered?  Status

-   What are duties?

-  What does a day in the life look like?
-  Team size
-  Who will I deal with?  Can I meet them?
-  Why is this position open?  Growth?  Attrition?  Why?
-  Goals?  
-                What is #1 Priority?
-                Greatest challenge
-                Short term, Long term goals?
-                How will I be measured against goals?
- Company
-                Competitors
-                Differentiators
-                Changes on the Horizon
-                Companies growth plans, and how?
-                Culture
-  Management
-                Leadership style
-                Management Style
-                Exec turnover rate.  Why?
-                Hire / Fire Authority??

VARIABLE ISSUES in Negotiations:
Variable Comp components / Bonus / MBOs ? Commission rates etc..
Signing Bonus
Vacation 4 weeks?
Car Plan
Home office considerations (Equipment, Expenses (DSL), Notebook)
Severance Strategy

When Traveling am I staying at Budget Inns, OR 5 star hotels?

Peter Gailey
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