I spend the lion’s share of my day conducting 30- to 60-minute telephone interviews. I can’t even begin to estimate how many phone interviews I’ve done but surely it’s in the thousands. Most phone interviews go over without any sort of oddities but from time to time I’m treated to something unexpected or inappropriate. On occasion I even encounter someone who is so lacking in interview etiquette that I decide to end the interview early. Recently one of my colleagues had one of those interviews, where she shut it down pretty quickly. Moments later she said, “I have an idea for your next TechNation piece. You need to write about the 12 things NOT to do during a phone interview. Thus, in no specific order, my colleagues and I strongly urge you to heed the following tips for optimal phone-interview outcomes.
1. Make sure that your phone is fully charged.
2. If you’re sitting in your car for the interview, roll your windows up. Use the A.C. if you have to, but keep the vents pointed away from your face; we can hear the wind from the A.C. and it sounds really bad.
3. Don’t put your interviewer on hold to take another call. In the unlikely chance of an emergency in-bound call, that’s understandable. But be very selective about it. If you are expecting a call and don’t want to miss it, let the interviewer know in advance.
4. When the call begins, make an effort to sound a little enthusiastic. Don’t sound like you just crawled out of bed.
5. Men, don’t ever refer to a female interviewer as honey, sweetie, darlin’, or anything else that might be reserved for a significant other. When in doubt, just go with ma’am.
6. Don’t be relieving yourself during the interview. This one is funny but I am pretty sure I’ve interviewed people who were conducting their business at the time. Just no, don’t!
7. Have your resume in front of you during the whole interview.
8. Parents, there’s nothing wrong with having to deal with a crying kid. But, holding a crying kid for the duration of the interview pretty much renders the interview useless so try to make arrangements to have someone on hand to help out if possible.
9. Barking dogs aren’t bad, either. That is, unless the dog is barking for the duration of the interview.
10. Don’t speak to anyone who may be in the room with you at the time. “Honey, can you hand me that piece of paper right there?” is just not OK.
11. If you happen to have more than one telephone, turn off the ringer on the other phone.
12. It’s a good practice for any interviewee to know what the company actually does to make money. Going to the website is a good start. But it’s not sufficient. Use a search engine and dig a little deeper. This shows that you care enough to do more than a cursory investigation and it goes a long way with the person who’s interviewing you.
Before sending this into the TechNation editor, I circulated it to my peers just to be sure. Each agreed that these are fundamental and useful tips to observe for a phone interview. Cheers to you for getting your next phone interview and here’s to hoping that it lands you a second interview, hopefully in-person.
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