Ring—Ring! How to Handle Difficult Phone Interview Questions from a Recruiter

June 25, 2012 in Career and Job Search Tips


Are you in or are you out?

By the end of a brief phone interview, this is what your potential employer will have decided.

You have just a few minutes to convince an interviewer that you’re worthy of a face-to-face meeting.  Make sure you do everything possible to create a great first impression and keep yourself in the running:

  • Keep your answers concise (less than two minutes).  If a recruiter wants more information, he can ask for clarification.
  • Speak clearly and slowly.  When you are nervous, you are more likely to speed up your rate of speech.  Before you answer each question, take a moment to gather your thoughts.  Slow your speech just a bit so you don’t trip over your words.
  • Convey your enthusiasm for the job.  During the phone screening, state directly that you are looking forward to the opportunity to come in for an in-person interview.
  • Practice, practice, practice.  The better prepared you are, the more comfortable and poised you will sound over the phone.

If you’re on the job hunt in the food & beverage industry, use this list of common phone interview questions (and suggested responses) to make a recruiter’s snap decisions work in your favor:

Tell me a little bit about yourself.  If you practice answering just one interview question, make it this one.  To impress an interviewer, you should be able to give a 90-second personal sales pitch convincing him that meeting you is absolutely essential.  Your answer should include a brief review of your education, work history, recent accomplishments and future goals.

Why are you interested in this job?  To answer this question well, describe how your skills and experience match the qualifications listed in the job posting.  This way, the employer will see that you understand the job for which you’re interviewing (not everybody takes the time to do this) and that you also have the qualifications needed to do the job well.

What are your weaknesses?  Most job seekers will be able to state their strengths; far fewer will answer this question well.  Resist the temptation to fall back on clichéd responses like “I’m too much of a perfectionist” or “I tend to work too hard.”  Instead, identify an area in your work where you could improve – and figure out how that could be an asset to the potential employer.  For example, if you didn’t have an opportunity to develop a skill in your last job, explain how eager you are to gain that skill in your next role.

What can you do for our company?  To nail this question, you need to do your homework.  Before the phone interview, research the employer online (check the company web site, LinkedIn, recent press releases and anything else you can find on Google).  Once you are familiar with the company and its mission, compare how your experience and professional goals might complement the company’s goals.  Your response to this question should include examples of why your education, skills, accomplishments and experience will make you an asset for the employer.

Seeking a Job in the Food and Beverage Industry?

Kinsa Group has a wide range of professional and executive food & beverage jobs available, including:

• Executive Management

General Management

• Sales


Operations & Plant Production Management

Research & Development

• Food Science

Quality Assurance 

Food Safety

• Human Resources

• Engineering


Supply Chain and Purchasing

Warehouse Management

• Finance & Accounting

Register with Kinsa today.  Our team of food & beverage industry recruiting professionals will listen to your needs, match you with a perfect career opportunity, and then prepare you to ace the interview.