In Line

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Can you give me some very practical tips to prepare for a phone
interview? I know I could do the job if I get it. But there’s a pre-
screening interview– 30 minutes with one person– before an interview
with the whole team. I need to pass this test to get to the people who
really matter. Do you have any advice about getting past the

In Line

Dear In Line:

First, change your mindset. Right now, the most important person in
your professional life – other than yourself – is the phone screener.
Rather than seeing him/her as someone who doesn’t matter, recognize
this person holds the key to your future. Treat every moment of the
interview, and the interviewer, with your full respect, attention, and
appreciative cooperation.

List of the relevant items in the job description. Match that list with
what you’ve done in your professional and volunteer life. Be very
specific. Then come up with examples of how your experience fits what
they’re hiring for. Drum up sample questions. The obvious ones are:
What did you like most/least about your prior you’re your
strengths/weaknesses? Successes/failures? Work style/computer
skills? There will be more relevant ones, as well as answers you may
want to give if the question you’re asked doesn’t quite match your
strengths, as in, I haven’t done that exactly but I have done x, y,z.
But I am a very quick learner.

Practice your answers. Write them in paragraph form first and say
them aloud. Think 160 words per minute of answer. Mo answer should
take more than 90 seconds max. Once you can say them with a nice
balance of refreshing candor and chest-thumping humility, translate
them into keywords. Have a crib sheet in front of you with two
columns: question keywords in one, and answer keywords in another.
One nice thing about a phone interview is that you can keep some
resources handy.

Last: send a follow-up email first thing the very next morning. Say
how useful it was to talk, that it only increased your enthusiasm for
the job, and you look forward to meeting the full team at the next
interview. Holler if you get a call.