Common Phone Interview Question – What Were Your Responsibilities At Your Last Job?
With a few exceptions, phone job interviews are not very deep. You have somewhere between 15 minutes and one hour to try to get the hiring manger to not be completely bored with you, since they usually have dozens of other phone calls they need to make and most of the people they are going to deal with are stupid and frustrating. The main goal of your phone interview is to avoid mistakes, not win the job.
The interviewer is not really trying to differentiate you from other candidates. They are simply trying to see if you deserve an in person interview. So the job interview questions you face are usually going to be fact based, so that the interviewer can simply assess if you don’t suck.
A good answer to this question can go a long way to getting you the in person interview. The key to answering it correctly is as follows:
- Try not to simply read from your resume. They have your resume already.
- Look at the duties that the employer mentioned in their job description and integrate similar answers.
For example, imagine the job description is looking for someone that has experience in project management, experience in databases, and experience working with Microsoft Office. Here are two examples of how an applicant can answer this question.
“At my last job, I was a research assistant. I helped the supervisor with her daily tasks, and was in charge of responding to queries by study participants. I also helped her with any of her research tasks, such as writing research papers and creating posters.”
None of these have anything to do with the job description, so it won’t make as powerful an impact.
“As a research assistant, my job was to take care of the day to day data collection tasks of the lead scientist, including managing each of the research projects, responding to queries of study participants, ensuring accuracy of the data, utilizing database software and crafting research documents to both successfully meet journal standards and accurately deliver the research discoveries.”
Note that nowhere do you say “I was in charge of project management, databases, and Microsoft Office,” but you strongly hint that you have those experiences by discussing the projects you managed, the data you collected, and the writing of research documents. This is a much better answer.
Take Away Interview tips
- Phone interviews are about avoiding mistakes.
- Your answer should incorporate the things that the employer needs for the job.