From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

December 2021
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Telephone Interview: Difficult Question
Filed under: Interviewing
Posted by: site admin @ 7:52 am


I hope you had a great weekend. I had an one-hour phone interview with Eastman Chemical Company yesterday. I was a little nervous in the first few minutes but I calmed myself down. Overall, I feel everything was going well except for one question.

After I briefly went through my education, I was asked
   why did you want to get a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry after you earned an M.B.A.?
My answer was that I believe that an M.B.A. plus a Ph.D. in Chemistry will prepare me for a career as a “lead-analyst/researcher” in today’s business world.

After hearing my answer, Dr. S (interviewer) switched the conversation to my experience with GC-MS.

Do you think my answer is OK? or there is a better way to reply? I am pretty sure I would encounter same question again.

Thank you!


One Response to “Telephone Interview: Difficult Question”

  1. site admin Says:
    Hi K,

    Thank you so much for sharing your phone interview experience.

    It is understandable that you started out the telephone interview with a nervous feeling. I must tell you being successful in a telephone interview is difficult. The challenge is for both people to meet each other’s needs in a business wise fashion. Thus, the way you are going about it in an organized way so that you develop your own style and key messages will help you now and in future.

    Some of the things that people conducting telephone interviews are looking for are:
       - is this person truly interested in working for my company,
              Will you do the job? 
              Do you show motivation and desire?
       - is all the information on the resume verified as written,
              Can you do the job?
              Can you show technical and scientific skills? 
        - can the person commuicate effectively and shows adaptive skills.
              Will you fit into the company?
              Can you adapt to the company culture and display team skills.

    Concerning the ”Why did you obtain a Ph.D. after obtaining your M. B. A.:
       “K”, the interviewer, Dr. S in this case, was trying to understand your motivation and the decision-making factors in the business school followed by technical degree training. Your response was truly from your perspective.
       To add support, if you feel it is necessary, you can point out that
    from “your 10 years of experience you observed” that …
    For example: ‘the people who made consistent contributions over their career had both team, organizational and business skills and special unique talents that helped solve problems (or helped explore root causes).’

       Another way of strengthening your logic is to offer that a mentor suggested this to you.

    The interviewer had a short time to cover some important ground. If it was critical to understand this decision or he felt your response could reveal more information for the interview decision, he would have followed up. For him to move on to explore the technical background shows perhaps a level of comfort in the response or perhaps a priority for clearly defining the GC-MS strength.

    K, if you felt it was not clearly stated, you can ask, does this answer your question at that point in the conversation, or when he asks for questions from you.

    As you know, this telepohone interview is
                 a good signal that your resume reveals skills that are desirable and 
                 a screening activity to determine if they should bring you in.
    If you refined your message to describe the two or three key points you confidently wish to deliver, you will have done well.
    K, not only is command of the language important in listening and responding, but also in an ‘effective bridging’ activity. By this we suggest that one’s response to a question not only contains an “answer” but also a ‘bridge’ to the message you wish to deliver about your quwalifications that make you especially suited for the position

    K, please keep me posted on your progress.

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