Mastering the Telephone Interview

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The telephone interview can make or break any chances you may have of getting that plum hospitality position. This initial screening measure is increasingly being used to weed out marginal candidates. It's also preferred by international hotels that may not want to pay airfare and a night's lodging for dozens of stateside candidates seeking an overseas one-on-one interview.

Some studies show that up to 80 percent of jobs are won or lost during the first five minutes of an interview. Which is why you need to totally prepare for this all-important telephone conversation. Keep in mind that if you're applying for a position abroad, the hotel HR manager or recruiter may call you at odd hours—early in the morning or after dinner. So you'll need to be ready with your "game voice" and fast answers to some very specific questions.

The secret is to prepare in advance. Much like a political candidate holding a press conference, you've got to be "spot on" with answers to some really tough questions. And that means practice and more practice. Here's just a sampling of what the HR manager might throw at you:
  • Why did you leave your last job? Career advancement or more responsibility is a good way to answer this one.
  • What's your biggest weakness? Being a perfectionist. Going overboard to make guests happy are acceptable replies.
  • What didn't you like about your last boss? This is a landmine. Segue into something else if possible.
  • What conflicts did you diffuse at work? Explain how your people skills helped solve a problem and how you learned from the experience


Remember, the telephone interview is not a casual call. Don't get too familiar with the interviewer. And don't waffle or give only yes or no answers. Finally, avoid using slang or the words ‘like’ or ‘you know’ and long awkward pauses.

For an added perspective, check out the video, Job Interviews - Acing The Telephone Interview

For more information on hospitality jobs, check out:

Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.

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