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Fort McMurray Career Centre

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The Interview - Part One: Navigating The Phone Interview


Congratulations! You read, tore out, highlighted, circled, underlined, stuck-to-the-fridge and embodied the “Six Resume Rules” from our February 2013 issue. Now all that hard work of re-reading job listings, re-writing sentences and double-checking your spelling has paid off - you’ve landed a job interview! Hey Fort McMurray, look out, we got us a Mover and Shaker here!

But wait a second, we hear you say, you’re not sure what to do now? They want to interview you over the phone - you’re anxious, nervous and (according to our thesaurus) skittish - you want to make a great first impression and you want that face-to-face interview? All right, sounds good to us. Let Your McMurray Team give you some help with “The Interview, Part One: Navigating The Phone Interview”.


For prospective employers, the phone interview is a tool to separate the weaker candidates from the more qualified candidates. Face-to-face interviews are time and money, and only those candidates with a greater chance for success will be offered an in-person interview. Here are 10 tips to helping you nail your phone interview.

{slider=1. Do Your Homework.}

In today’s age of Google, Bing and Yahoo!, it takes roughly 0.18 seconds to get back search results on your company of choice. Take at least 30 minutes to do some background research on the organization. Remember, a lot of the major employers in our region issue annual reports. These freely available reports are full of amazing information and are well worth the read. When you can effectively and easily answer questions about the company, you’ll be grateful you took the extra time to study.


{slider=2. Why Do You Want To Work Here and Other Questions You Need To Be Prepared For.}

The Internet is a wonderful tool - search for the phrase “Top 10 phone interview questions”. Read at least five of the search results and then take the time to think your answers through. Write your answers down, and even practice saying them out loud - the first time you say them aloud should not be during the interview! If you want, have some cheat sheets in front of you during the interview, but just don’t sound like you’re reading a script!


{slider=3. Get Proper Sleep the Night Before.}

Getting a proper round of ZZZZs the night before is a great way to properly prepare. Good sleep has many benefits, some of which are: making better decisions, increasing your mood, allowing for better concentration and allowing for better memory. How could being better at any of those things be a bad thing during a job interview?


{slider=4. Dress For Success.}

Yes, you may very well be sitting at your kitchen table, but avoid the temptation to stay in your jammies and Oilers slippers during the call. Dress as if you were going for a face-to-face interview. It may seem odd, but it will help to put you in the right frame of mind if you’re properly and professionally dressed. Trust us.


{slider=5. Do Not Call From The Cafeteria.}

Ensure the room or environment is quiet, comfortable and free from distractions. You certainly don’t need any shiny objects or loud noises to take your attention away from answering questions, and the interviewer definitely needs to be able to clearly hear you and how amazing you truly are.


{slider=6. Be Early.}

You don’t need to be madly rushing around minutes before the call - be ready for the phone call 15 minutes before the scheduled time. Take those extra minutes to relax and calm yourself. You’re worth it.


{slider=7. Smile.}

Yes, during your phone interview, make sure you smile. It is an amazingly effective and simple trick to help bring warmth to your voice over the phone. It’s thought that greater than 50% of communication is non-verbal (a.k.a. body language) and you don’t have that luxury over the phone. The more you can shine through with your voice (by smiling, speaking clearly and slowly) you can appear like a better candidate.


{slider=8. Actively Listen. Actively Think.}

Really listen to the questions being asked of you, and take the time to think your answers through. No one is going to fault you for taking an extra three-to-five seconds before delivering a great answer.


{slider=9. What Questions Do You Have For Them?>

Have a handful of questions handy that you’d like the company to answer. If none of them have been answered during the interview, choose your top two to ask when you’re asked, “Do you have any questions for us?” Asking questions shows the interviewer that you are an engaged and eager candidate.


{slider=10. Thank Your Interviewer.}

At the beginning of the interview, make sure you note down who is interviewing you. At the end, make sure to thank them by name and thank them for their time. It is a nice touch and is an effective way to close down the interview.


Next issue?

The Interview, Part Two: The Face-To-Face Job Interview.

You Asked, We Answered!

Q: Just finished going through your Winter 2013 publication. Your article on resumes getting you the interview was interesting, however mine follows your format but still not getting responses. My question to you is - is there a company in town that does resumes? Whether there is a charge or not makes no difference to me. Many thanks for your assistance with this. - Ursula H

A: As far as we’re aware, there are no professional resume/cover letter services in Fort McMurray. But there are many web-based services that might be of service. One such example is Good luck!

Have a job hunting or human resources question? Email YMM at and we might print both your question and our answer in a future issue.