Are phone interviews “real” interviews? This is a question I am asked frequently. The answer is a resounding “yes.” Phone interviews are just as important to the interview process as any other interview. Most companies now require a phone screening before advancing candidates to further rounds of interviews, and many others require all initial interviews, even with the hiring team to be conducted over the phone. This benefits everyone. If you get on the phone with the recruiter and you find out that the company’s salary range is below your goal, then you’ve only invested the thirty minutes for that call. If you talk to the hiring manager and discover that she’s really looking for in-depth experience in an area in which yours is more superficial, you can both move on and seek other opportunities.
The biggest mistake that people make when it comes to a phone interview is pretty simple—they don’t take it as seriously as they would a face-to-face, and that is to the detriment of the job seeker. Your phone interview is serious business; here are ten things to avoid if you want to make sure your next one is a success:
Being unprepared. You need to come to the phone interview knowing something about the hiring company, its products and services, and the problems facing the market. Don’t just dial in and wing it.
Interview while driving. Sometimes you need to make a call when you’re on the road. But 60 MPH in 4 lanes of traffic is not the place to conduct an interview for your next career opportunity. At a minimum, pull over so you can fully concentrate on the interview.
Lacking formality. I don’t mean that you need to use “Sir” or “Ma’am,” but this isn’t a friendly chat. It’s a business discussion and should be treated as one.
Speaker. Don’t take your call on speaker. There is too much background noise, and it’s distracting.
Insufficient power. In anticipation of your call, make sure your phone is fully charged.
Multitasking. Multitasking does not work. Ever. The human brain cannot handle it. You may think you’re multitasking, but you’re actually focusing on one thing, and ignoring everything else. The result is that you don’t perform optimally at ANY of the tasks you’re trying to accomplish.
Eating/chewing gum. Yes, this really does happen. Don’t eat or snap your gum during a phone interview. Sips of water or coffee are fine but avoid anything that will make a lot of noise.
Can you hear me now? Be sure that you’re someplace that you know has good reception. Again, don’t wing it.
Interrupting the other person. This is basic courtesy, and is easy to avoid face-to-face, but sometimes people get carried away on the phone, and verbally plow over the other party, simply because they are not sitting across from one another.
Ramble on. People’s attention span via phone is much shorter than it is face to face. Be sure that your answers to questions are solid, succinct, and satisfactory.