Posts tagged: Phone Interview

Leveraging The Power of the First Impression Helps You Win The Interview

First impressions are so important in the initial meeting that one would not be too far off base if they argued the most important part of the interview. First impressions set the tone for the interview and often determine the types of questions, length of the interview, and ultimately the outcome. Making a strong first impression is often the deciding factor in who makes it to the next round. If the candidate makes a strong first impression they are immediately liked by the interviewer. This candidate just moved up the point scale towards the next round and they haven’t even been asked one question. On the other hand, if the candidate makes a weak first impression, the candidate starts out in the hole. This hole if often so deep  that no matter how well they answer the questions, the interviewer cannot overcome their first impression. In fact, they may have decided right in the lobby that this person isn’t getting the job.

Tips to making a strong first impression:

· Good eye contact.

· Remain a comfortable distance from the person.

· Firm handshake – even if you think you have one ask someone who will be open and honest. Many don’t, so don’t assume you do.

· Strong introduction coupled with a smile, a strong handshake and eye contact. Practice this introduction.

· Have a couple of conversational questions prepared in advance to engage the interviewer.

· The most important of all are the four “A’s.” A VP of HR at Rockwell Corporation gave us these. They are so important more than 25 years later we still remember them.

  1. Appearance

  2. Articulate

  3. Affable

  4. Assertive

Bring these four to the first impression and you will move up the scale – not down.

Study after study reveals that likability is the single most important factor used when determining who ultimately gets the job. Underestimating this is a failure of many candidates. Those that make a strong first impression will often do better in an interview than candidates with better experience.

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I welcome your comments and thoughts

Brad Remillard

Tell Me About Yourself? Why Is This Question Asked In An Interview?

This is so often the first question asked in an interview. It may not be worded exactly like this, but in one form or another, many if not most interviews start this way.

Knowing this question is coming, why do most candidates get so frustrated answering this question?

It is, for the most part, a break the ice question. It gets the candidate talking, gives time for everyone to relax, is wide open, and generally a meaningless question. However, just because it is meaningless, doesn’t mean you can ignore it. In fact, this is an excellent opportunity for you to engage the interviewer.

You have a golden opportunity to hit the salient points in your background, open a discussion around what defines success in this role, and to get the interviewer excited about this interview.

In our opinion this should be a short 2 minute, so well rehearsed answer, that is doesn’t appear to be rehearsed. This is not the time to give your autobiography, go over every position in your background or bore the interviewer with a long winded answer.

In most cases, the interviewer is using this to simply start the conversation. They aren’t looking for a complex or even complete answer. They just want a quick overview. That is it.

We recommend starting with your most relevant position and hit the accomplishments that closely relate to the position. It is even acceptable to outline some of your current responsibilities, organization, relevant company information, products or services, and basic duties. The goal is to give the interviewer the information they need to better understand how your company, industry, experiences and organization aligns with theirs.

This is not the time to give a lot of information that doesn’t align with the company. For example, if the company is a small entrepreneurial company, it would be a fatal mistake to highlight your experience in a large Fortune 500 company, that you managed a staff of 30 people, and your department budget was bigger than the company’s sales last year.

A better answer would be to highlight a past company similar in size that you enjoyed working at, felt more fulfilled by the impact you made, preferred the ability to be hands-on and what you did to contribute to the growth of the company. This better aligns with the interviewer’s needs.

You should have a number of canned, well rehearsed, thoughtful answers to this question. This is your opportunity to start the interview on the best footing for you.

Join our Linkedin Job Search Networking Group. There are over 2500 people in the group, so it is a great resource for you and your search.

Get a free download on our homepage of a sample cover letter, job search self-assessment tool, and Linkedin profile assessment. All are free in our “What’s New” section on our homepage at

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We encourage your comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard

Tip To Overcome Interviewing Problems.

A preemptive strike works:

I came home from work one day, and had just walked in the house, when my son came up to me to tell me we needed to talk. He is too young for the birds and bees and probably knows that anyway, so I knew something was up. He explained while practicing his pitching for baseball, he threw a wide pitch and broke the window above the garage. I said “no big deal, all boys break a window once in a while.” He said, “Well that is not all. After that I moved to the other side of the garage and threw another wide pitch and broke the other window too.” He was scared I would be really mad. I thought, “How can I be mad. You stole all my thunder by coming to me. I didn’t have time to get mad.” He performed a preemptive strike.

How does this relate to a search? I was doing a search for a CFO, and one candidate’s resume indicated a lot of turnover. As I went through his background, it became clear that there were great reasons for the turnover and in most cases the company turned him over, not the other way around. The problem was, he wasn’t addressing these in the interview right up front. Basically, he wasn’t defusing a negative situation.

We changed that and put together a script that dealt with the turnover right up front. In the interview, he preempted the interviewer by saying “I realize from my resume, that it appears that I have a lot of turnover, and I can understand why one would think that. Let me explain the circumstances surrounding the turnover and I’m sure it will help clarify this issue.” This defused the situation and completely eliminated any confusion and there wasn’t a problem. The candidate demonstrated they had nothing to hide or be ashamed of.

The candidate did get a job and wrote to us saying he felt this technique played a major role in getting past the first interview.

Also, in case you are wondering, my son has broken the same windows again. I now buy replacement windows in bulk.

The worst thing candidates can do is assume that because the interviewer didn’t bring up the issue it means it isn’t an issue. The fact is, the interviewer is thinking it isn’t an issue worth discussing, because they have already come to a conclusion without even discussing it.

By bringing the issue up first it allows you to discuss it openly and clearly demonstrates you have nothing to hide.

Our “Complete Job Search Home Study Course” addresses exactly how to handle this and many other issues candidates encounter and often mishandle during their job search. One misstep like the one above can cost you a job, resulting in thousands of dollars in lost wages. To review the content of the home study course and have it sent to you for only$14.95 (We will even pay the shipping.) CLICK HERE.

For many more tips and help, join our Linkedin Job Search Networking group. It is free, and provides a wealth of great discussion and news. CLICK HERE

Join us on the radio every Monday at 11AM PDT on as Barry and I discuss a variety of topics to shorten your time in search. Our audio library has past shows for you to download for free. CLICK HERE

A Critical Interviewing Mistake!

Candidates more often that not miss one of the best opportunities during the interview to shine, to differentiate themselves, and demonstrate their ability to do the job. What a great opportunity missed!!

In most interviews, the interviewer even sets the candidate up with the opportunity to shine and candidates blow right past it. The interviewer asks the soft ball question, “Do you have any questions for me?” A golden opportunity to shine. The questions you ask can outshine every answer you have given so far in the interview.

However, time and time again, I hear candidates do one of two things:

  1. Answer,”No, not really. Most of my questions were answered during the interview.” What a terrible answer. How did the interviewer answer “MOST” of your questions, when they were asking you questions.
  2. Reply with one or two (occasionally someone stands out and asks three) standard, unimportant, basic no-brainer, no forethought questions such as, “What is the budget?” or “What is your management style?” Again, these reveal the candidate has not prepared and is very shallow.
  3. Actually, there is a third, the candidate sits there like a deer in the headlights trying to think of something to say.

This is your opportunity to ask questions that demonstrate your ability to understand the job and what performance standards will be. Challenge the interviewer, ask “Why” are you doing X, probe deeply into the issues you will face once on board, how they manage, etc. Every candidate knows this question is coming in one form or the other. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions is a sign of strength, confidence and demonstrates a depth of knowledge. As a recruiter for almost 30 years, when a hiring manager calls back and says, “This person really asked me some great questions. They made me think in the interview.” I know that person is getting the job.

One component of your interviewing preparation should be questions to ask. Not just questions about the company, but specific questions about the job, ask “why”, ask about communications, ask about past issues, ask about future challenges, ask about people, ask about KPI’s, ask about systems, there are so many issues to discuss to make sure you will be successful.

The best advice I have is ask the same questions you will be asking once in the job to be successful. You might as well know them before you accept the position. Otherwise, it might be a position where you can’t succeed.

This is such a critical issue in our job search workbook, “This is NOT The Position I Accepted” (This wouldn’t happen if candidates probed in the interview.) We list over 150 question to ask in an interview in this workbook. We even break these questions into categories to help identify when to ask the question. In addition, we give you the 10 most important questions to ask in an interview. You can receive this book to review for FREE right now. Just pay the $5 shipping. CLICK HERE

Also, join our Linkedin Job Search Networking group. This is a very active group that deals with every aspect of a job search. All Linkedin groups are free to join and provide a wealth of information. CLICK HERE

Don’t miss our talk radio show every Monday at 11 AM PDT on Barry and I discuss the most important challenges you will face in your search. You can listen to past shows in our audio library. CLICK HERE to enter the library. All files are free to download

Interviewing Faux Pas To Avoid.

An Innocent Comment Kills The Deal

A few years ago, a client in Arizona was searching to fill a VP US Sales position. The search was narrowed to two finalists. One lived in New York and the other in Southern California. The final round of interviews included the CEO and two board members. The candidate from NY made a comment she felt was in jest or just off the cuff, however, it was fatal. She rather flippantly said, “It is really hot here. People must be crazy to live here.” The CEO was offended by this comment and felt that someone at this level should be careful with such comments. He was very concerned this kind of comment could turn off a customer.

Moral of this story, be on guard at all times. Even an off the cuff comment can kill a deal.

Words say a lot but the body speaks louder

While doing a search for a VP of Sales, one of the requirements was up to 50% travel. Although the candidate knew this going in, when the subject came up in the interviews he apparently squirmed in his chair and lost eye contact. The client wasn’t convinced that he was really comfortable with this amount of travel. We discussed this with him in detail and in fact he was comfortable with it and had been doing that much travel for some time. He couldn’t explain the reason for their concern. We were able to overcome this with the client, but only after many conversations with the candidate and client; he did in fact get the offer. However, if he had represented himself and not had us to clarify the situation he would never have gotten the offer. Worse yet, he would never have had the chance to address this point.

Just remember, your body may speak louder than your words do, which is another good reason to hire a coach as they can help you with your interviewing style. Before you do this CLICK HERE to listen to our radio show interview on Career Coaches.

Little things that candidates rarely find out about can dramatically impact the interview. We recommend in our job search workbook some things you can do to make sure these examples don’t happen to you. For example, have you video recorded yourself in a mock interview? This is one of the most revealing things you can do to improve the interview. We make this job search workbook available to you for only the cost of $5 shipping. CLICK HERE to at least review the book to see if it will help you.

It Is OK to SWEAR In An Interview!

There seems to be two types of candidates in this world. Those that ramble on and on hoping if they talk long enough the person will forget the question they asked or the candidate that gives one or two word answers to every question. It is like pulling teeth to get a complete answer.

There is a happy medium between these two.

We suggest never talking more than two minutes without re-engaging the hiring manager. To re-engage, simply ask a follow-up question. For pain questions we use the acronym S.W.E.A.R. to format an answer, tell a story and stay within the two-minute rule.

  • Statement – Repeat the question in your own words to clarify you heard the question. This should take five to ten seconds.
  • What relates in your background – Select an experience or accomplishment in your background that relates. Give enough background information so the interviewer can put the example in the proper context. This should take twenty to thirty seconds.
  • Examples – Next describe a specific example ensuring that it directly relates to the question. Use a recent accomplishment. The example must address their pain and show a benefit to them. This should be one of the five accomplishments you developed during your preparation. Keep this from forty-five seconds to a minute.
  • Action – What specific action did you take? Use action words such as: led, developed, implemented, changed, or improved.
  • Results/Re-engage – This is the most important component in the answer and one that is generally left out. Quantify the results you achieved. How did the company benefit from this, what changed for the better as a result, what savings occurred? How did you calculate the savings? How did management make better decisions as a result? Sales people refer to this as the WOW factor. The hiring manager should think to themselves, “WOW, that is what I’m looking for.” This should take about fifteen to twenty seconds.

Finally ask a follow-up question that gives you feedback and re-engages the hiring manager.

Pay close attention to the hiring manager’s body language. If you notice any change in body language, you need to determine if it is positive or negative. If you determine it is negative stop and re-engage. Don’t keep on talking. They are not listening anyway.

In our job search workbook, “This Is NOT The Position I Accepted” we go into great detail on the interviewing process. There is so much to the interview that most candidates can’t possibly absorb it all in just one posting. Right now you can get the complete job search workbook for just the cost of shipping $5. You should at least CLICK HERE to take a further look to see if it can help you.

Also, we offer a comprehensive home study course for those that want to learn at their pace. We will send this complete course to you for $14.95 plus shipping. Again, at least take literally one minute to review the content of the kit to see if it will help you get out of search. CLICK HERE to review the contents.

Every day you spend looking is costing you a few hundred dollars in lost wages. If either of these tools or resources can reduce that by even one day you win. Please take a moment and see if this will help you.

The Most Important Three Words In A Search?

Everyone knows the three most important words in real estate are location, location, location.

So then, “What are the three most important words in a job search?” (Answer below)

Not knowing these will impact just about every aspect of your job search, including your resume, the phone interview, definitely the face-to-face interview, and even the first impression once you start. That is why these three words are so important, no critical, to one’s search.

Recruiters are constantly amazed at how candidates take a job search for granted. The genesis for this article was a comment a candidate said to me just yesterday. Having just completed an interview the previous day, I asked the candidate how he thought the interview went. He replied, “I think it went OK. I did a lot of research on the company ahead of time so I felt prepared.” So far so good. Then I asked, “Were you asked any questions that you didn’t feel you answered completely?” His reply, “I guess I wasn’t really prepared for the questions. I haven’t had that many interviews so I wasn’t ready for the questions. I think I need to start preparing for that.”

Isn’t it a little late to start preparing for the questions one is going to be asked, after the interview?

This is the problem recruiters encounter daily. Candidates don’t understand, or get, the priorities of a job search. Knowing what to do and when to do it is the difference between getting the job and not getting it. Random luck rarely works in a job search.

I have said to hundreds of candidates, “You need to prepare for the questions you are going to be asked.”, he would have said,”I know.” I get so tired of hearing “I know.” From now on please replace it with, “I’m doing it.” PLEASE.

The answer to the question is, presentation, presentation, presentation.

Let me know if you knew these. I have asked over 500 candidates this question and none knew the answer.

Please don’t say, “I knew these.” Instead please tell me, “I’m doing these.”

Presentation, presentation, presentation is the key to a successful job search. Those that have this mastered will always do better than those that don’t.

Presentation includes:

  1. How well your resume presents your accomplishments. This includes aligning them closely with the needs of the job. The correct terms and phrases immediately catch the reader’s eyes. Leave the correct amount of white space so the resume doesn’t look cluttered and unorganized. (Consider listening to our audio on, “Traditional Resumes Are Worthless – Click here).
  2. How well you communicate during a phone interview. If 70% of communication is body language, and this is missing during the phone interview, how do you effectively communicate when 70% of the communication is removed. (Consider listening to our audio on phone interviewing click here or downloading our free chapter on, “Winning the Phone Interview” – Click here).
  3. Face-to-face interview. The first impression drives the interview. A strong first impression will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Make a strong presentation and you often get an easier interview than with a weak first impression.
  4. Preparation is all part of the presentation. Knowing how to make a strong and professional introduction, when to pause for effect in your answer, how you will stress the points you know are critical, how to answer the question in a succinct manner, when to lean forward in the chair, how to demonstrate high energy during a phone interview, what questions to ask during the interview, how to use your voice inflection, eye contact, etc. are just some of the keys to a great presentation. (Consider reading the blog article, “Where’s Wes, Not Waldo” – Click here).

Presentation takes an enormous amount of preparation and practice. This about “doing” not “knowing.”

Please leave us your comments and if you knew the answer to the question.

To review all our free resources and tools – Click here



Are Recruiters Looking For Qualified People?


A common assumption made by most candidates is that, “I’m qualified. Why don’t you call me?” Simply put, you answered your own question. We don’t want qualified people.

Recruiters are only looking for exceptionally qualified people.

Especially in this market, companies don’t need to hire us to find qualified people. They can do that on their own for FREE.

If you want to have recruiters notice you, if you want recruiters to call you once they receive your resume, and if you want recruiters to return your phone call, then you must demonstrate why you are exceptionally qualified. We are not looking for just qualified, or as most candidates indicate in their emails, “I think I’m a good fit.” Recruiters don’t want “a good fit” either. We want exceptional fits.

Our book, “This is NOT the Position I Accepted” was written for this exact reason. We really attempted to help candidates understand how to demonstrate they are an exceptional fit. The 5 steps in the book give great detail on being or becoming exceptional. These 5 steps closely follow a sales model, after all, you are now in sales.

1) Define the product. That is you. Why are you so different from your competition? This is the, “what makes me exceptional” part. If you can’t define this, then you are not exceptional. Don’t feel badly. Not everyone can be exceptional. Only the top 15 – 20% are exceptional.

This is probably the biggest reason most candidates fail at being exceptional. They don’t take the time to perform an in-depth analysis of their strengths and transferable skills. (We have a free skills assessment tool for you do download at the bottom of our home page CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD).

2) Identify Customers. All good sales people have a target list of customers , who they want to talk to in that company, and how to get to them. This is your network. Of the thousands of candidates I interview, very few have a real focused, targeted list and a plan to get to the person. Real sales people don’t just randomly call on companies and neither should you.

3) Marketing Materials. This is your resume. Sales people know that marketing materials are just support documents that open doors. These documents don’t close the sale. Most companies that are market focused have multiple marketing documents. They know that customers are motivated by different things and they need to get to what motivates that customer to make a sale. One size fits all, doesn’t work.

Your resume should be focused to the company/hiring manager/recruiter’s motivation. Your resume should clearly articulate the benefits to the person or recruiter whose attention you want to attract. This is not one size fits all.

You can download a free audio on, “Why Traditional Resumes Are Worthless” by CLICKING HERE

4) Sales Presentation. In the candidate’s case the presentation is the interview, either via phone or face-to-face. Sales people practice this at length. Sales reps often have the manager go along to ensure they are skilled at this. Sales reps anticipate objections, seek out the answers to overcome the objections, and then practice to make them appear unrehearsed. Sales people know exactly what questions to ask to elicit the information needed to make the sale.

Most candidates don’t rehearse their presentation to anyone. They practice answers in their head, but rarely write out the answers. I have watched more interviews collapse when the hiring manager asks, “What questions do you have for me?” The candidate sits there like a deer in the headlights. This part of the interview is so important that we have included over 150 questions to ask in an interview in our book and have even divided the questions into categories. The list includes questions on leadership, initiative, values, management style, and questions specific to the job, organization, etc.

The questions you ask are often more important than the answers you give.

To receive a free chapter on, “Winning the Phone Interview” CLICK HERE.

We also have a whole chapter on the ten most important questions to ask in an interview.

Less than 10% ever ask even one of these. Amazing.

5) Follow-up and closing. It is all a waste of time if the follow-up and closing doesn’t happen. For candidates, this happens in a couple of different areas, thank you letters (we even provide an example), second and third interviews, and of course closing the deal. This may even include a contract.

Mastering, NOT JUST KNOWING THESE, but mastering these will make you the exceptional candidate recruiters are seeking.

Knowing them will ensure you stay a qualified candidate.

For more information on becoming exceptional see all of our free resources, review the free audio library where we post new audios every week, read our other career management blog entries and even listen to our talk radio show on Monday’s at 11 – noon PDT on

You can receive our candidate job search workbook for FREE by CLICKING HERE

Now you have the resources and tools to become an “exceptional” candidate. We hope you will pick up the tools and begin using them.


Phone Interviewing Quiz

Most interviewing processes start and stop with the phone interview. In our opinion this is the most important interview. Not only because if you fail here the process stops, but mainly because it sets the stage for the in-person interview if you do well. Have a great phone interview and the mindset of the person bringing you in for the face-to-face interview is already positive, they believe you must be qualified, and you are starting out in a strong position.

Here is a quick quiz to see if you are ready to, “Win The Phone Interview.” Answer these in your mind, not fair if you already read the book or downloaded the free chapter. (Answers below)

  1. List all three factors that can be measured during a phone interview. Must list all three.
  2. How long should you talk before re-engaging the interviewer?
  3. Is the format for answering a question different than a face-to-face? If so, what is different?
  4. Is there a possible benefit from not answering the phone? If yes, what is it?
  5. What is the only purpose of a phone interview?

If you can answer all of these, then you are aware of how different the phone interview is from the in-person interview. If you can’t answer all of them then you should consider doing your homework. It is possible you’ve missed an opportunity because you were weeded out during a phone interview.

To help you, we have a number of completely FREE resources to make sure you know how to win the phone interview.

  1. Our chapter on “Winning the Phone Interview” from our job search workbook is free to download. It answers all these questions and more.
  2. We just posted a 1 hour audio file from our radio show focused completely on the phone interview.
  3. There are also a number of other blog entries dedicated to the phone interview for you to read.
  4. Our Linkedin discussion group is a great forum to discuss any issues you have regarding your job search.
  5. Our monthly Candidate Open Forum tele-conference has been one of our most successful methods to discuss all job search related topics. These forums fill up in less than a day. Click here for the next date and time.

Please consider taking advantage of these. They are all free tools you can use to ensure you not only win the phone interview, but win the job.

Help your friends and family know how they can win a phone interview by sharing this with them.

Please let us know how you did on the quiz. Did you really know all of the answers?


  1. Energy level, technical abilities and communication skills
  2. 1 minute.
  3. Yes, since it shorter and you can’t read their body language it is very important that your answers are succinct and impactful.
  4. The hiring manager leaves a message saying, This is the VP of HR from ABC company. I’m calling about X opening and would like to speak with you.” Now you can do some basic research on the company.
  5. To screen you in or screen you out.

Winning The Phone Interview

Hiring often starts with a phone interview. For candidates who don’t understand the unique subtleties of a phone interview it is often the end of the interviewing process. Using our DRESS UP model for conducting a phone interview will ensure you move on to the next step. We discuss the biggest reasons why many candidates fail the phone interview and give you solutions on how to “Win the Phone Interview.” Learn to win the phone interview and  you will the job.