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First Round Interview: Phone/ Video

You have now (hopefully) passed all online tests which would be a great achievement which means you are probably down to 5% of the application pool.

Your next stage is either a phone interview or a video interview.

How to prepare:

  • Phone interviews are often conducted before an in-person meeting when costs need to be saved and time is of the essence.
  • Confidence and continuity in dialogue are key to your success as otherwise, you will be noted as poor in communication skills. Your tone is everything as you do not have body language or other forms of non-verbal communication to substantiate your answers with.
  • Expect structure and organisation. The interview will have questions scheduled, and you are supposed to know everything about the company, the position you are applying for, the ins and out of your CV, and potential questions that might stump you.
  • On the bright side, you can have a paper in front of you to reference from, but make sure to have points noted down that you can quickly draw from. Do not make the mistake of losing your train of thought and thus, forgetting to pay attention to the interviewer.

1. Maintain your speed and clarity of communication; keep a water bottle and keep sipping on it
2. Make the call in a quiet place
3. Keep your phone completely charged and make sure your reception is reliable
4. Potentially stand up as if you’re speaking to a person face-to-face to simulate an in-person interview or walk around to reduce your nervousness.

Video interview training

This format is closer to an in-person interview, but it still offers the pros of lesser expenses and conferencing from anywhere in the world. Executives might use a software specifically for the purpose of interviewing – Webrecruit, Sonru, LaunchPad Recruits or InterviewStream – or they might just use Skype.

  • Competitors are on an even playing field as they questions are standard. You might be able to read up on advice on the websites of the companies listed above.
  • Make sure that:
    Your webcam has high quality.
    2. Your microphone is working.
    3. Decide where the interview will be. Make sure your environment is simple and appropriate for a professional to see.
    4. Adjust the lighting so that it doesn’t create shadows on your face. Preferably sit facing the window so that the sun hits your face.
    5. Dress appropriately – a formal shirt and pants (in case the interviewer sees your whole body) to convey an image of seriousness about the job.
    6. Since the interviewer can see you, it is important to look at the person once in a while. Be wary of looking distracted and staring at the other half of a split screen/opening other tabs. You could put post-its behind your computer/ notes where they are easily visible, and it also seems like you’re looking at the camera.


Types of Questions at an Interview

In your first-round interview either by phone or video, you will have two types of questions: Competency questions and Commercial awareness issues.

  1. Competency questions:

Employers are keen to find evidence of leadership, teamwork and communication skills. These are some examples of the type of questions they will ask:

  • Have you ever been a leader of a group?
  • Describe a situation in which you had to lead a team.
  • Describe a situation where you were a part of a team.
  • Give an example of a time when you handled a major crisis.
  • Describe a complicated scenario in which you dealt with confrontation (maybe with a customer).
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
  • Why do you think you will be successful in this job?
  • Speak about a time where you were inventive and took a resourceful action of your accord.
  • How do you manage your time and prioritise tasks?
  • Detail an experience wherein you had to motivate others/ you changed someone’s perspective(s).

You will need to have a clear script prepared for all these types of questions.

For competency-based interview question, it will be up to you to choose an example of a time when you have used the appropriate skills. Prepare well for which examples you can use. You can draw upon experiences at school, University, extracurricular activities or work experience.

The employer wants to see the ways you react. It is not about how fancy/unique the situations are. Connect the anecdote to why you are a good fit for the job you are applying for. You might also be asked about your shortcomings and situations where you were not at your best. This reflects on your humility and ability to deal with arduous scenarios. They want to see how you can deal with challenges and the skills you have to adapt.

  1. Commercial awareness questions:

Based on the position in question and the variations between corporations, the items asked will vary. Questions may differ from the broad commercial awareness issues to industry distinct from those relating to the function you are applying for. You need to have done research on the company you are applying to, both on its website and what is written about them. For example:

  • How do we make money as a business?
  • What do you see as obstacles to the success of our sector?
  • What differentiates our company?

Industry specific questions vary. For example, in banking or accounting roles, you may be asked questions like this:

  • What is the difference between debt and equity finance?
  • What is the difference between cash flow and profit?
  • What is the FTSE, is it trending up or down, and what does that imply for the economy?
  • Are oil/gold prices rising or falling currently and what does that mean for competitors that mean for our businesses?
    • How do economic events such as a change in interest rates or availability of housing affect sales?

    Functional specific questions relate to the type of position you are applying for. If you are applying for a marketing role you may be asked something like:

  • Describe one of our recent marketing campaigns and detail how it contributed to our brand identity?

Posts related to Operations and Management might ask:

  • What is excellent customer service in our industry?

July 11th, 2017

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