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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Dec 7, 2008

Interview Questions: Ace the Telephone Interview

Once, I totally failed a phone interview! It was embarrassing, and I  regret the entire experience. Eventually, I may write about it for my "Worst Interview Ever" series.

For now, you have the benefit of my experience. Here are a few of of the usual questions and a step-by-step guide on how to answer them:

Tell me about yourself... is usually the first question. 
1. Do not recite your life story; they want to know if meeting you is a good use of their time. 
2. Talk about the educational and professional experiences that have shaped your career.
3. This answer should not exceed 2 minutes.

My stock answer for this goes along these lines:
I have an extensive background in fine arts and chose to study graphic design in college. While there, I was offered an assistantship that allowed me continue my education. So, I studied Publications Design and fell in love with the field. I completed several freelance projects for a diverse group of clients in grad school. Regarding my career, I've always worked in either education settings or in the non-profit sector. My current work is for X organization. I was drawn to it because of their commitment to teaching the arts in public schools.
That's basically it. I do elaborate where necessary, but I stick to this script.

Tell me about your experience… Your response to this must be relevant to this job, and the specific skills you bring. The 2 things to remember when aswering this question are:
1. Give a brief synopsis of your professional experience, as listed on your resume,
2. Find the priority  requirements in their original job posting, and connect these to the work that you've done in the past.

What are your strengths? Pick three. Be warned, concrete software skills should not dominate the conversation. Highlight your creativity, attention to detail, ability to assimilate new information, or collaborative work style.

What are your weaknesses? Pick one or 2--no more. Briefly identify a weakness and present your strategy to overcome it.

What are your salary requirements? Okay, I'm not sure exactly how to answer this. Don't answer this one so early in the game. Your salary requirements are negotiable.

A good strategy is to say that at this point you don't know enough about the scope of work at this company to give a range.

When the interview ends, you will be asked if you have questions of your own. One writer advises that you "take the initiative and ask, 'The most pressing question I have is when can we meet?'" Frankly, if you feel confident about the previous 30 minutes, go for it.
Here are some other good questions:
1. Will I work directly with clients? Who would I  with on a daily basis?
3. Is there a lot of collaboration between the designers and the other departments?
4. How does your company support professional development?

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