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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

May 15, 2013

Be Prepared: The Phone Interview

The last time I wrote about phone interviews I had just flubbed one by being unprepared. Today, I write as someone who just conducted a series of phone interviews and now have a better perspective from which to report.

I was recently in the market for an assistant Instructional Media Developer with great design sensibilities, the ability to craft messages for a target audience, some video or  motion graphics background, and a good grasp of Adobe Creative Suite.  I selected 3 applicants for phone interviews and told them that I would contact them to get a better idea of their "experience and professional goals," which I spelled that out in the email. Sadly, only one of  the applicants was sufficiently prepared to answer my questions.

I asked the following questions, these are pretty common ones in our field:

  1. Tell me a bit about yourself. This question is meant to illicit a response that incorporates education, and professional goals. It is rarely a chance for you to talk about your hobbies or siblings. Yes, one of the interviewees started telling me about how she's  the middle child. I had to reign her in and restate the question.
  2. Tell me about your ability with "X" software or skill (describe the experience or give a rating of 1-10). Since my job description included some mention of script writing and story-boarding, I added these to the list--which included software, platforms, other skills, and conceptual design . The interviewees all had some limited experience in scripting and story-boarding, but only one elaborated on the experience by telling me more about a specific project.
    The lesson here is to always be prepared to elaborate or give concrete examples during an interview.
  3. Regarding your resume, please tell me about why you made this design decision. There should be a concrete reason for every decision on your personal marketing materials. One applicant had a 2-page resume that included only 2 sentences on the second page--this person didn't realize that the text flowed to the second page after her most recent content update. I advised this person to apply for jobs using a PDF resume in future, to avoid formatting mishaps.
  4. Tell me about your professional goals: During the interviews, I kept a checklist of 7 different career paths that I think would benefit from experience in instructional media development. When the interviewee mentioned one or the other of the fields I simply added a check mark on my questionnaire and left it at that. This was my tie-breaker question (not that I needed it).

  5. Do you have any questions for me? The correct answer is "Yes...!" Are there any opportunities for professional development? Can you tell me about the culture of your company? Tell me about your style of management. Etc. Just remember to avoid the questions about salary, bennies, and time off.

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