The phone interview is an important step in the hiring process—and not something to be blown off or overlooked just because it’s less formal than an in-person interview. This is often your first interaction with an employer, so make it a great first impression by avoiding the following mistakes that job seekers commonly make:
Mistake #1: Appearing distracted.
Avoid eating, drinking, playing on the Internet, or watching television while on the phone with a hiring manager. Any type of multitasking can make you sound uninterested and distracted – not to mention that it makes it more difficult to give great answers! Turn off all distractions and sit in a quiet room (away from family, roommates, and pets) during your phone interview to avoid distractions and background noise.
Mistake #2: Using a cell phone instead of a landline.
Although most individuals today use their cell phone much more than any landline, they’re not ideal for a phone interview with a potential employer. Cell phones tend to cut out or lose signal at a moment’s notice – which could affect your phone interview negatively. Even if you’ve listed a cell phone number on your resume, provide a landline for the hiring manager when it comes time for an interview.
Mistake #3: Poor communication skills.
Much like an in-person interview, you need to have prepared, specific answers to the questions an employer might ask you. Keep answers concise but informative. Pause at the conclusion of your answer to give the interviewer a chance to interject with any questions they might have. Remember that because the interviewer cannot see your facial expressions, you’ll also need to convey enthusiasm and passion in your voice and answers over the phone.
Mistake #4: Not doing your research.
Arrive on the phone as prepared as possible. Know who will be interviewing you (a hiring manager or HR person?) and what they might ask. Look over the job description again to determine what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate and see how your skills and accomplishments match up with it. Read up on the company, including recent news, press releases, social networking updates, etc. Take notes if you’d like—the great thing about a phone interview is that you can have them in front of you while speaking with the employer!
Mistake #5: Failing to have your resume, cover letter, and other documents handy.
Not only should you consider having notes about the position and organization in front of you, but you should also have your resume, cover letter and other important documents handy. Some hiring managers might ask you about specific accomplishments on your resume or want you to walk through your past experiences, so it helps to have the exact documents you sent them open or printed.
What other phone interview mistakes should job seekers avoid? How can job candidates impress employers during a phone interview?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.
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