When you’re applying for an administrative, receptionist, customer service, or other office position, a typical job interview question will be "Are you comfortable using a phone system with multiple lines and handling a high volume of telephone calls?"
In your response, you want to express that you’re comfortable with multiple phone lines.
Even if you haven't handled high call volume in the past, there are still ways to give a confident answer.
What the Interview Wants to Know
With some interview questions, it can feel a bit mysterious why the interviewer is asking the question, and what they hope to find out.
In this case, the interviewer's goal is pretty straight-forward: The interviewer wants to know how you will handle getting a lot of phone calls all at once. Interviewers are looking to get a sense of your experience with the phone, your comfort with the technology, and your manner while talking to people on the phone.
How to Answer Questions About Phone Systems
If you have answered phones in a role previously, make sure to say so right away in your response.
You don't want to give a one-word answer of "yes."
After you confirm that you are comfortable with multiple phone lines and a high volume of calls, give some details. You can mention which phone systems you've used in the past or describe the typical volume of calls you received. Andyou can be specific about phone skills you've used in the past, such as:
- Placing callers on hold
- Screening calls for supervisor
- Placing calls for supervisor
- Transferring and forwarding calls
- Conference calls: setting them up, placing them, managing them, participating in them
- Voicemail management
- Taking messages
Don't despair if you haven't had phone responsibilities in a previous role. Instead, you can pivot to describing why it's important to have a good phone manner. You can also discuss the importance of customer service skills in your response.
Examples of the Best Answers
Here are sample interview answers which you can edit to fit your personal experiences and background.
Yes, I'm comfortable using multiple phone lines with a high volume of calls and have done so in the past. I'm able to keep the conversations separated, and deal with the clients in a friendly efficient manner.
Why It Works: In this response, the interviewee confirms that they have the required skill, while elaborating on how they handle the situation.
I haven't directly handled multiple phone lines, but I understand the importance of being courteous and efficient, and I'm a quick learner.
Why It Works: This is an honest answer. In an ideal world, you'd have the experience. But if you do not, being upfront and then explaining that you know the skills required to handle the task is the best solution.
I understand that phone contact is often the first interaction that a customer has with the company, and the first impression is extremely important. It is critical to maintain a friendly, professional manner on the phone at all times.
Why It Works: This answer shows that the interviewee understands why the question is an important one.
Tips for Giving the Best Answer
- Lead with a "yes": If you do have experience in this area, make sure to say so in your response.
- Give details: Whether you do or don't have experience in this area, go beyond a one-word answer of "yes" or "no." You'll want to either share your specific experience with handling high volumes of phone calls or show that you understand why this skill is important.
- Mention manners: It's not just about operating the technology. A big part of answering the phone is how you speak with someone, so make sure to incorporate details about how you speak to people in your response.
What Not to Say
- No: Even if you don't have this experience, there's still a way to sell your skills. Talk about the importance of customer service, your ability to handle a busy work environment, your comfort learning new technology, and so on.
- Don't disqualify yourself: If you do not have the experience, that's OK! As you can see, there are plenty of ways to spin this. But if you say, "I dislike talking on the phone," or "I get overwhelmed by new technology" then you'll make yourself seem quite unappealing as a candidate.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- How many phone lines did you handle on each?
- What was the usual volume of calls each day?
- How often did you have more than one caller at once?
- How would you handle someone who was frustrated on the phone?
- What does customer service mean to you?
ANSWER THE QUESTION This seems obvious, but since this is a yes or no question, it's particularly important to give a response to the question at hand.
SHARE DETAILS Go beyond a one-word response, and share either details about your experience with phone systems or your understanding of how to tackle phones.