Hey Du'An, do have any advice on doing the part of a phone interview when they ask you the more technical questions?
Happy New Year! This is a great question and its one that I have been asked often! So, I figured lets create a blog to help as many people in the #LabEveryday Community as possible.
Phone interviews have always been my favorite type of interviews.
This is for two reasons:
1. I do not have to take time off of work.
2. I am able to focus only on answering the questions they ask.
Granted , in-person interviews allow me to experience the company’s culture first hand. But, whenever I apply for a position, I always do my research on the company in advance.
You should do the same. Because nobody has time to be wasting!
Now, before I answer this question. Let me begin by providing a few tips on how to conduct yourself during phone interviews.
1. Find a quiet place
I will admit I have done phone interviews while driving, at my kids sporting events, and in a factory. Not a good look when you have to ask the interviewer to repeatedly repeat themselves.
2. Have your resume in front of you
You should always know exactly what is on your resume. Clearly walk the interviewer through how you began your career, to where you are today. The more interesting your resume story the more interested they will be in you. Also, while you are in your quiet place its ok to have your resume laid out in front of you for reference if need be. Have a pen ready as well. That way you can write the interviewers name down. You will need this for when you send your thank you letter or email.
3. Learn how to mute and unmute
We have all been on that conference call when a caller didn’t have their phone on mute while washing pots and pans. Mute your phone while the interviewer speaks. This will give them the floor without you talking too soon and cutting them off. It also eliminates any background noise that you may have. Be sure to unmute before you begin speaking.
Pressure and stress can cause us to act in ways we normally would not. If you are applying for a position that will require you to work with customers over the phone. Then a phone interview can be a good indicator on how you will manage stress on the job. So, relax. Listen to the questions, plan your response, and answer the questions confidently. Even if you do not know the answer say “No. I do not have experience with this technology. Or say I do not have an answer now, but I know how to find it by researching the Cisco documentation and ect.”
Now that we covered some basic etiquette, lets answer the original question.
"How to handle more technical questions when on a phone interview?"
For this answer I am going to list a few strategies and discuss each in full detail.
Research the company
Whether its a technical phone interview or not. You should always research the company that you are applying for. Seek to understand their business and mission statement. See how your morals and goals aligns with theirs. Use this as a tool when you are in your interview. If the company builds widgets to help the greater good of humanity and you have a passion to be apart of their mission. State this in your interview. It will let the interviewers know that you have done your research on the company, their business, and it will show your genuine desire to join their team.
Research the position
Along with knowing what’s on your resume. I always recommend saving the job req and company name that you are applying for. Save this in a word document or in something like Microsoft OneNote. Having this job req will give you a resource that you can use to prepare for that phone or on-site interview. Most job reqs will have Job Responsibilities, Minimum Requirements, and Desired Qualifications sections. Sometimes called Preferred Qualification. Let’s break down each of these.
Here is an overview of what your day to day tasks will be in the position you applying for. Often times this will be very general. When you read this section. Ask yourself if you have experience with the listed responsibilities. If so, be able to explain when, where and how you managed those responsibilities. Mentioning projects is also a great look to your future employer. If do not have these responsibilities on your resume, be creative. Think of relatable technologies and tasks that you have done before. Also, do your research to be able to communicate that you have an understanding of the technology or role.
Meeting these requirements will often land you a phone interview. This section will mention technologies that a candidate must have experience with. This could be Cisco ISE, Prime, BGP, and have a CCNA. Know this area! Be able to effectively communicate when, where, and how you supported the technologies listed. If you have not supported BGP. Be honest in your interview. But also, lab it up and to get a basic understanding. Check out YouTube videos, Cisco blogs, and other trainings. You don’t need to study for the interview like it’s the CCIE. But at least have the level of your certification in understanding!
NOTE: To be honest there have been times when I over prepared in this section. So never stress yourself out! Honesty is the best route. Let the interviewer know that you do not have the answer now. But you know the resources to find it, like Cisco documentation or your own personal OneNote or blog.
If you want the job, then here are the skills and certifications that you need to have. If this area mentions python and you have automated deployments or configurations. Make sure that you list this on your resume and confidently present this in your interview. Most companies want a rock star. Someone that will hit the ground running and push the organization forward. By having these skills, you will stand out. If you do not have these skills, don’t worry. Work to have an overview understanding. Let the interviewer know that you do not have any experience with the technology. Tell them that you have been doing your own research. And you would love to learn more if given an opportunity to work for company XYZ. (Some companies don’t have time to train a network engineers)
To sum up this post. Story telling is an art! If you can master this art. You can master phone interviewing, presentations, proposals and life. No whiteboard needed. When asked those hard-technical questions relax. Take your time to think through the problem or question. Take a second to pause. I know this can feel like an eternity but in reality, it is not. It shows that you will not rush into problems.
If you noticed I didn’t give you much info on technical questions. In most cases everything that you have learned is all you will need for your next opportunity. Practice and review what you already know. If you have, you’re A+ and you are applying for a help desk position then review this info along with the tips above. Same for all my network engineers.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on this topic. Please feel free to post them below or in our forum section.
Whatever you do, get a good night sleep and when that time comes relax and knock that interview out the park! Good luck!