The Aim of a Phone Interview

The main purpose of a phone interview is to act as a 'screening' process from which the company can assess who are likely going to be the most promising candidates for the job role or internship placement offered. A potential candidate will only usually be offered a phone interview if they have proven to the company through a submitted job application accompanied by their resume (CV) that the candidate at least meets their minimum requirements of the role. Hence, the 'screening' process (phone interview) is simply carried out in order to gain further additional information surrounding the candidate (which is discussed below) and to verify what has been interpreted in the application and resume. Simply, can the candidate actually match in reality, what they have said on paper? The actual purpose of a phone interview isn't normally about landing the job or internship placement there and then, it is more about impressing in the phone interview enough, in order to give you that 'pass' into the next stage -- usually a face to face interview, which then gives you the chance to land the job.

What Will a Phone Interviewer Want to Find Out About You?

There are a range of aspects an interviewer will want to find out about you in a phone interview, some of which may be totally specific to the job role you are applying for (e.g. specific computing skills), and for others it will be more general (e.g. personality). What they are looking for exactly -- is dependent on the recruiter and the actual defined purpose of the phone interview (e.g. competency based phone interview, technical question based interview). Below is a rather 'tongue in cheek' list of the kind of factors and issues, the phone interviewer may be looking to find.

1. They Want to Assess Your Technical Ability - the phone interviewer may want to assess your technical ability through asking specific technical questions related to that specific job role , and will be impressed on how comprehensively you can answer those sort of questions provided --  sort of like a verbal examination, with a rather subjective mark scheme.

Tip: Usually in an E-mail (or some form of notification) you will know the style of interview questions that are going to be asked -- if they state it will be a technical based phone interview, this is obviously a good indication, that to prepare you may need to brush up and revise on some of the role's techniques and activities that are specified in the job description.

2. Query about Your Work Experience and Qualifications - for example they may want to find out more about you and the resume (CV) that you have submitted in. Clarifying details of how long you performed role X, and perhaps want you to elaborate about the responsibilites and activities you undertook whilst working there. Moreover, they may not know what a particular qualification you have passed -- fully entails and want you to expand upon why it is a useful qualification to have in the role you are applying for.

Tip: Be sure to have a printed copy of your resume (CV), cover letter and job application close to hand in your phone interview, so you are up to speed as to exactly what they are reffering to and can provide confirmation of any details they are curious about or aid them in filling in holes in the application.  

3. Behavioural and Competency Based Questions - they may want to assess you as a person, your particular competencies and your future potential performance. By getting you to provide through examples answers to questions (e.g. "Can you provide me an example when you had to lead a team?") the recruiter can judge how well suited you are for the particular job currently, as well as predicting your performance level in the future based on your presented past examples -- whether or not you are a high performer, if you have performed well in the past you are likely to perform well in the future as well. 

Tip: When prepairing for telephone interview competency questions make sure you have undertaken research of the company's website, identified their key competencies and then script and prepare several specific examples and stories to each one.

4. Assess Your Communication Skills - one of the key aspects a phone interviewer is looking for when conducting your phone interview is how you actually come across -- which is often judged to be your communication ability -- considered to be a vital component of a successful employee for many companies.

Tip: Make sure you get your phone interview off to a great start by making sure the phone interview greeting goes perfectly, it has been said that a phone interviewer will judge whether you pass or not in just under 30 seconds of the greeting. 

5. Are You Right for the Company? - generally speaking they want to assess your personality and mentality. They are trying to decide how well you came across in the interview and whether you are 'right' for the company's interest in general. Essentially do you tick the boxes in terms of character and ability?

Tip: If you are going to be taking a phone interview then I have to recommend you the two following books on how to be a telephone interview master and acing it -- firstly 'The Essential Phone Interview Handbook' and secondly '101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions' be sure to at least check them out. Both are truly a great investment, and will be sure to take your phone interview performance to the next level or two, possibly more. 

As said above, although the list above is rather 'tongue in cheek', as the objective of a phone interview will differ slightly from company to company, hopefully you will now have a better basic understanding of what the actual point of the phone interview is. If you have any additional remarks regarding the purpose of a phone interview then I encourage you to please a share comment below.