Hour-long phone interview!
October 9, 2018 2:38 PM   Subscribe

This is a part-time, on call position (this is perfect as I've snagged another part time job) at a nearby public school. Those of you following along know that my prior job at a large educational bureaucracy was eliminated due to the "budget cuts". So....I have an interview this Friday. 1) What on earth are they going to ask me for one hour? 2) How can I make the very best impression? (Checking similar stories). Thanks all.
posted by intrepid_simpleton to Work & Money (12 answers total)
A long time ago, I was told to keep my answers concise in a phone interview. The person giving this advice said " You don't get any facial cues in a phone interview, so you can't see how the interviewers are reacting. People have a tendency to go on and on. Better to have them ask you for more."

This has turned out to be wise advice over the years. Hope this helps.
posted by wittgenstein at 2:48 PM on October 9, 2018 [9 favorites]

Be up and eager to participate, but let them lead. The phone screens I've had for computer stuff that lasted that long were either because I'm long-winded when telling my story, or they're long winded in selling the company/position. I wouldn't expect it to be an hour-long grind, but I might be in a different line of work.
posted by rhizome at 2:52 PM on October 9, 2018

They may have multiple decision-makers taking turns on the line; that usually works better than multi-person conference calls for phone interviews, in my experience. Or the hour might be the default time in Outlook or whatever scheduling mechanism they use.

Dress in nice clothes (you don't need a suit, obviously, but change out of ratty PJs) and have a professional stance. I tend to stand during phone interviews because my sitting posture is terrible if no one is looking at me, and poor posture leads to poor voicing.

Make sure you are in a quiet space with good cell reception. Test it out the day before if you can, with a friend.

Good luck!
posted by basalganglia at 2:53 PM on October 9, 2018 [6 favorites]

I've used these in hiring. The thing about these is that you don't get a chance to make the one on one connection in quite as much of a personal way, so while being friendly is great, the essence of succeeding is nailing the content. Assume that they will be making the decision on the basis of a transcript of the call.
posted by salvia at 2:59 PM on October 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

In my experience, one hour is a pretty bog-standard block of time for an interview. I wonder if you're expecting it to be more like a phone screen, and that's what's tripping you up? I'd expect it will be more of a full-on interview. And it can be super easy for interviews to go an hour: 5-10 minutes for everyone to get situated, make small talk, 5-10 minutes for intros, 5 minutes to go over the position - that's 15-25 minutes right there and they haven't even asked you any questions. Assume 25-30 minutes for their questions, 10 minutes for you to ask questions, 5 minutes to wrap up and talk about next steps, and there, you've gone over the hour!

Also, in a good interview, they're not just going down a line of questions and having you give terse answers. They're doing follow-up, there's back-and-forth.

Anyway, I have a ton of experience with phone interviews as an interviewee and a hiring manager. My best pieces of advice:

- Have a few anecdotes to share about how you work or professional accomplishments. Be prepared to talk about your strengths, especially in terms of the job requirements. Go through the job description and be ready to talk about similar experience you have or how you meet each of the requirements. You won't be questioned that rigorously, but it helps to be prepared to show how you're a great candidate.
- Figure out your main selling points (based on the previous bullet) and write them on a piece of paper. Don't try to shove your points in where they don't fit, but do take a look at your notes from time to time to make sure you're hitting your main "talking points." (one nice thing about phone interviews is that you can have notes in front of you without it being obvious!)
- Try to remind yourself to pause after you're done making a point, since like wittgenstein mentioned above, you can't use facial/body language cues to see if your interviewers are still with you or want to interject. In general, if you're a fast talker, try to slow down a bit, but not if you think it will make you feel awkward.

I like the idea to practice. I used to quite frequently do phone interviews in a parked car (somewhere I was confident I wouldn't be interrupted) because it's quiet and there aren't many distractions. If you have kids or animals at home, go somewhere they're unlikely to interrupt.
posted by lunasol at 4:21 PM on October 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

Try to use a landline / VoIP, and smile into a mirror when you speak - it helps you sound more at ease.
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:08 PM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Have a question or two prepared, so that if they ask you at the end "Do you have any questions for us?" you don't just stammer and say "No." When I did phone interviews recently, candidates were definitely marked down for not being curious or wanting to know as much as possible. Most people asked about things like a typical day's schedule or the hiring timeframe; they weren't very in-depth questions, which was fine.

We asked lots of "Can you tell us about a time that you ____?" questions. I'd look at the job posting & think about specific examples of why you meet each requirement.
posted by belladonna at 5:49 PM on October 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Reasons these get scheduled for an hour, even when that may be a smidge long: Outlook only easily gives you .5 or 1 hour, you have to put a 15-minute buffer on there for the phones to suddenly go to shit or a meeting before to run over or martians invade or whatever, if more than one person is involved you're now waiting on multiple people's delays and chitchat (including introductions), there's always a possibility that you'll get into a good conversation and want a little time for that, and then of course it's always better to have a meeting end with time left than everyone have to bail because they have a hard stop for their next meeting. So don't feel pressured to fill the whole hour just because it was scheduled.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:09 PM on October 9, 2018

I'd be happy to do a mock phone interview with you and give you feedback on how you come across. Check your MeMail.
posted by Diddly at 8:46 PM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

In California, at least, school districts have to ask every applicant exactly the same questions, so you can probably expect this to be pretty structured and free of really off-the-wall questions. Panel interviews are popular in my district, which was a bit of a surprise but no big deal. You may end up in a situation where the people interviewing you are part of your department or have done your job, or you may not. It seems counterintuitive that people without the appropriate background would be doing the hiring but it happens sometimes. Ask questions about job specifics but not about vacation time. Use the job description as a guideline for outlining your experience if you are asked to tell the interviewer about yourself.

You probably don’t need this advice but I have seen people really blow interviews by responding to questions in a super negative way, e.g. “Have you ever been to an IEP meeting?” getting the answer, “This district won’t allow people in my current job to attend IEPs, so how am I supposed to do that?” Don’t respond like that.
posted by corey flood at 9:32 PM on October 9, 2018

38 minutes, and I thought I sounded crazy (I've been sick for 4 days) and she wants to offer me the jon pending the background check.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 12:09 PM on October 12, 2018 [5 favorites]

*job. I told you I was sick.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 7:35 PM on October 13, 2018

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