4 Things Not to Do in Phone Interviews

Phone interviews are mostly for screening, but they are your chance to make employers want to talk to you further, in person.  Just as you wouldn’t wear a monster truck t-shirt to an in-person interview, or show up drunk, there are things you might want to skip before your mini teleconference.

Sometimes these things take place unexpectedly, so here I’m just talking about scheduled calls.  It’s perfectly fine to ask if you can call the employer back if he surprises you.

Drink lots of soda!

Aww, but you love your Mountain Dew, don’t you?  And that cool Mexican apple drink you found at the Latino market?  Well if you want to let a great big juicy burp explode right in the employer’s ear, go right ahead.

Gaseosas.  Muy bueno.

Gaseosas. Muy bueno.

Image:  bevreview.com

Ditto for your lunch if you take it before the interview.  While it’s unlikely your bean soup would produce an audible sound unless you’re on speakerphone, perhaps a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or something equally bland would suffice.   Hiccups would be equally devastating.

Find the noisiest room in the house!

Señor Pancho is so cute.  His little skinny Chihuahua legs, his pointy nose, his bulgy eyes…that little sombrero you put on him sometimes…the way he yaps endlessly at birds, the mailman, your mother-in-law, the TV, etc. etc….

Yes, the person calling knows you’re at home.  No, she don’t want to listen to Señor Pancho barking, or Kitty Lovekins howling, or your four-year-old shrieking because her sister just pulled the head off her favorite Barbie.

child crying on grass

Just leave her out there for a while. The dog can watch her.

Image:  imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A scheduled phone interview should give you plenty of time to find a quiet place with no distractions, and you should have picked a time when the noisemakers aren’t a problem.

You don’t need no stinkin’ paperwork!

If you’re like me, you’ve probably forgotten the job description between the time you applied and the time they actually call you.  This can take a couple of days, or up to several weeks.  I’ve gotten calls for jobs I applied for a couple of months ago.

Save the job description as a PDF file so you have it.  By the time you go back to it, the employer may have pulled it.   You can then have it open or print it out in time for the call, along with your resume and cover letter and your list of questions, so you’ll remember what you said and what you want to ask.

If you think you can wing it, go ahead.  More chance for me!

I see your mistake and raise you a face-to-face interview…

Image:  flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com / Wikimedia Commons

Wear your pjs in a Skype interview!

You know, the purple flannel ones with Scooby Doo on them.  You’ll exude a cheery, comfortable vibe!

Wear whatever you want in a phone interview, although I would recommend something comfortable, so you’re not thinking about how squeezed your waistline or—ahem—parts are, which will reflect in your voice.  Take a shower too, so you feel fresh and alert.

In a Skype interview, you’re meeting face to face, even though your potential employer may be hundreds of miles away.  Think this won’t happen to you?  Many small businesses are owned by larger companies, who have HR and division offices in other cities.  Rather than paying for airfare or asking you to do it, they may opt to simply talk to you using this handy dandy video phone.

Watch this tutorial from Time.com video.  It’s full of handy tips about background and where to look during a video interview.   Please ignore the reporter’s annoying vocal fry speaking technique.  Don’t talk like that.  It can cost you a job.

Probably best not to do this either.

Probably best not to do this either.

Image:  imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Want to know more about phone interviews?  Visit Ask A Manager’s page on this topic!

Find tips from Alison Green on Skype interviews here.


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