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The Five Toughest Telephone Interview Questions — And How To Handle Them

1.”Tell me a little about yourself,” is often the first question. Interviewers don’t want your life story; they want to know if meeting you would be a good use of their time. Answer with a brief work history showing how each job and project helped prepare you for this job. Then give a profile of the “professional you,” showcasing your skills in a way that will have the interviewer mentally picturing you doing the same things for him.
2.“What experience do you have in…?” Make any discussion of your experience relevant to the deliverables of this particular job, and reference the specific skills you possess that enable you to do it well. At its core, this job exists to help the company make money in some way; and your work helps achieve this goal by solving problems and preventing problems from arising within your areas of responsibility. Your answers should show that you are a problem solver (and problem preventer) by nature, and that this problem prevention and solution attitude is always part of your thinking. You do this by giving concrete examples of problem identification and solution.
3.”What are your strengths?” Whatever your particular strengths, you want to get these three points across:
You have the specific technical skills needed to do the job well.
You have a problem-prevention-and-solution mindset.
You are fully aware that the product of your work (that sale, that accounting report) in turn becomes part of someone else’s work. You understand your work is one small but important cog in the complex machinery that helps the company make money.
4.”What are your weaknesses?” You can safely—and honestly—say that your greatest weakness is finding time to stay current with all the new technology skills required in your work. This is a challenge for everyone, so you’re neither lying nor making yourself seem “less than.” Then you must be ready to end your answer with examples of how you’ve been proactive in combating this deficiency.
5.“How much do you want?” If the interviewer asks about money, say that at this point you don’t know enough about the company or the job to answer accurately. If you are pressed give a range, say, “I have no real understanding of your needs yet, or of the different benefits that could come from joining your team. However, I would probably be looking at something in the range of $X-$Y.”