Hello and welcome! Whether you’re a recent grad who has already had some experience with “the hunt” as I like to call it, or still an undergrad that wants to get just three steps ahead of the game, I am confident you’ve come to the right place. For those of you who have gone through the search and have signed on to this idea, I’m sure that even you will find some newfound tips and tricks to put in your hat.

Today, we focus on the how to prepare for a phone interview. This is a screening process big and small companies use to select from a long list of candidates, those that are qualified for an on-site interview.

Professionalism, industry knowledge and personal marketing efforts are items that create an employer’s impression of your candidacy — developing these skills from start to finish in an interview influences whether or not you receive a job offer. I’ll focus on how you, among hundreds of applicants, can prepare and polish yourself to gain the next step in the heady interview process: an on-site interview.

Prepare far in advance by bulking up your knowledge of the company that is about to interview you.

1. Research the company and position. Review the company’s Web site, focus on their mission statement and objectives. We’re in a digital world where any press on a company is now public domain and searchable.

a. Do a Google search. Type in the company’s name and check out the top three hits on the company. Do a Google blog search. Go to the google.com main search page, go to “more” and click on “Blogs.” Type in the name of the business, names of the founders of the company, etc.

b. On any company’s Web site, the best areas to find information is the “About” section or “Press” section. This will give you a good picture of how the company was established as well as how others perceive them.

2. Find out who the company’s competitors are.

a. As an example, when interviewing with Yelp, read everything on their competitors by researching the most popular “review” companies (City Search, Yellow Pages, Zvents, etc). Then:

b. Do a comparison and contrast of each site. Go to www.yelp.com, then open another window to www.zvents.com, then check out www.citysearch.com. Do a full review by answering the following questions: “How does Yelp differ from Zvents? From City Search?”, “Are there similarities between these three sites?”, “Who is Yelp’s target audience?”, “Which site of the three is more user-friendly?”

By preparing yourself and understanding the company you are about to interview for, you will not only be fully prepared for the interview, but will also gain newfound knowledge on the scope of what the company does in its industry.

Next, the most daunting part of the phone interview is the behavioral and situational questions. These account for 80 to 90 percent of phone screens. By researching online, you can find examples of questions posted by recruiters, employers and online communities that are vocal about this very topic. Examples of behavioral and situational questions are:
— “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”
— “Why did you apply for this position?”
— “Have you ever worked in a leadership role?”
— “What was the reason for leaving your last position?”

Behavioral questions give an employer an idea of how you work, your attitude and behavior in the work place, why you applied for the position and your intentions on applying for the position. Situational questions allow an employer to see how you think on your feet, problem solve and places you in the shoes of an employee of the company. It also gives an employer an idea of how you react to situations that are commonplace at the company.

The best answers to these questions are provided by real-life examples of what you’ve done academically, volunteer work or job experience. Prepare by outlining a list of questions, then rehearsing answers that are concise yet descriptive. The more you prepare yourself with answers to every possible behavioral and situational question, the better of an impression you make on a potential employer.

In closing, present yourself openly and speak eloquently — recruiters judge your communication style and speaking ability. Show a humbleness to learn, express your abilities to problem solve, be innovative and creative. If you can put these elements together, your candidacy will shine above others.

For questions about “the hunt” after graduation, email me at gethired4good@gmail.com.