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Phone Interview Tips

interviewing tips for a phone interviewThis story is a true story Sam who is working on securing a graduate position and needs a few phone interview tips for various interview questions he expects to be asked before his next job interview.

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The interview he is faced with is a phone interview, but with behavioral interview questions.

He already knows three of the questions they will ask him.

Sam’s Questions:

I have been given three questions to prepare for a phone interview next week Monday. I have answered two questions out the three and wanted to know what you thought of my answers?

Question 1:

Please describe the most challenging problem you have faced in the last 5 years. How did your approach affect the outcome?

Sam’s Answer:
“While working at Next, I was one of three people to work in the menswear department. One day upon arriving at work, I was told the area manager was coming the next day to do a store inspection.

The two other people who worked in menswear department were both over 50. Neither could lift heavy objects and one refused to work at all. As a result, the menswear department was usually left to me to keep stocked with product and kept in order.

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I had about six hours of work time to get the entire menswear department in order. Those six hours passed around and there was still a substantial amount of work to be done. I asked the store manager if I could stay and work after hours while the overnight stockers were there. He said that because of the employment budget, he could not let me.

I was faced with bringing the entire store’s rating down, so I suggested a creative staffing solution, allowing me to work the extra hours while temporarily reducing the hours of the other two members of the department.

Because of this solution, in a matter of hours, the department was in tip-top shape and still under budget. After that the results was that the menswear department got a score of 85 out of 100 and award special recommendation for outstanding work which then got me promoted as senior sales of my department.”

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Question 2:

Please contrast the best and worst decisions that you have made in the last 3 years, how did your approach differ?

“I recently made two decisions (One was bad and other was good) regarding the research part to my postgraduate dissertation. The bad decision was selecting a volunteer student to help me conduct my research. He appeared to be an excellent candidate based on our initial conversations, but as time went on, he failed to live up to my expectations.

Unfortunately, with time, that decision proved to be a poor one because he ended up being over emotional, a little unsettled and fairly unreliable. Now thankfully, circumstances lead to me not being able to maintain him and I escape from that decision.

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The second one was that recently, I appointed research volunteer for same position, after having watched their work for a period of three months. This was a difference in my approach, I spent a considerable amount of time observing this persons strengths and weaknesses, especially under pressure and then formally interviewed him. From this has been successful in his post to date.

The main difference was that in the first instance, I went with my gut reaction and in the second, I went with my gut plus evidence of his ability to do the job.”

Don’s Answer Comments

Your answer for the first question was right on with what they were asking you. I think it ran on a little bit so I shortened it up and I think it has better continuity this way.

Please describe the most challenging problem you have faced in the last 5 years. How did your approach affect the outcome?

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While working at Next, I was one of three people to work in the menswear department with a store inspection the following day. Two people in the department, both over 50 and could not lift heavy objects and one refused to help at all.

I had about six hours to single-handedly get the entire menswear department in order before the inspection. Running low on time, I asked the store manager if I could work through the night to get the store prepared for inspection.

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But because of the employment budget, he could not let me. Faced with bringing the entire store’s rating down, I suggested to the manager allowing me to work the extra hours while temporarily reducing the hours of the other two employees.

Because of this solution, I was able to get the department in tip-top shape — and still under the staffing budget. The menswear department got a score of 85 out of 100 and I was awarded special recommendation for outstanding work and was promoted to senior sales.

Please contrast the best and worst decisions that you have made in the last 3 years, how did your approach differ?

As for the second question, I think you are on the mark. The main reason behind asking this question is to see how you have improved your decision making process and if you learned from your mistakes. The first decision was solely based on instinct, and the second decision was based on instinct plus experience and qualifications.

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A few phone interview tips you could use would be to improve your answer by spending less time on your story, because it’s irrelevant in this case, and instead elaborate on the process you went through and how you’ve learned to make better decision.

Consider cutting your story background down to, basically, you appointed two people to assist you with graduate research, one worked out and one did not. Then spend the rest of your time explaining your decision making process and what you learned.

You have just read a transcript of real problem posed by Sam, who is preparing for a phone interview and wanted to get a second opinion on the answers he plans to give.

Inside the Complete Interview Answer Guide, Don shows job seekers how to answer interview questions. The 201+ sample answers in the guide will quickly help you craft your own professional answers for ALL types of interview questions for any occupation.

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