The Mistakes that Job Seekers Make With Telephone Interviews

How do you perform in a phone interview?  Are you confident that you will pass through the telephone screening?  Since resources are limited at many organizations, more and more employers are using the telephone interview to whittle down their giant pile of resumes.

Many job seekers don’t pay much attention to the telephone interview.  It is important to recognize that the telephone interview is an integral step in the screening process, and that it requires the same level of preparation as any other interview.  Here are some common mistakes that job seekers regularly make with the telephone interview:

They are not completely focused on the interview.  Some people check their e-mail, scan the newspaper or keep their eye on the television during telephone interviews.  Imagine if you did that at an in-person interview!  Your performance will not be nearly as strong as it would be if you were completely focused.  You may be able to answer the questions, but you won’t come across as engaged or enthusiastic, and your answers won’t be as strong.

They have not prepared for the interview. While most job seekers will spend a lot of time preparing for an in-person interview, many do not spend any time preparing for a telephone interview.  Some job seekers even have trouble remembering the position and the organization when the employer calls.  While it can be more difficult if the telephone interview is unexpected, it helps to keep a list of the organizations and the positions applied for, and to always have details and examples of experience ready.  If the telephone interview is scheduled, prepare for it as you would for any other interview.

They do not have their resume or job description in front of them.  It is a lot easier to provide detailed examples of your experience if you have a copy of your resume in front of you.  Also, you are better able to demonstrate that you are a good fit for the position if you are looking at the job description.  Job interviews are difficult, so make use of any possible advantage.

There is background noise or other distractions.  When there is a lot of background noise, it does not give the employer a positive impression of your level of professionalism.  Barking dogs, yelling children, and a loud television all present an image of you being disorganized and chaotic rather than skilled and confident.

They are too passive.  People are often quieter on the phone than they are in person.  Many job seekers fall into the trap of limiting responses to one-sentence answers.  This approach will not make a good impression on the employer.  Show interest in the position, be engaged in the interview, and don’t be afraid to ask your own questions.

They have poor telephone communication skills.  For various reasons, many people are not comfortable speaking on the phone.  If this is the case for you, it is particularly important that you practice the telephone interview.  It is not enough to practice the questions, you need to practice on the phone.  During your actual interview, speak clearly and slowly, and make sure that you will be undisturbed.

There are technical difficulties.  While it is not your fault if you have poor reception or if your phone dies, it does reflect on you, and the employer may respond to this frustrating situation by removing you from consideration.  You need to do everything in your power to make sure that your phone is working properly.  If you are having difficultly, let the employer know that you will call them right back on a more reliable phone.

Telephone interviews can be intimidating, but if you prepare ahead of time and stay focused during the interview, you will be miles ahead of many of your competitors.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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