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A phone interview is a prelude to an in-person interview … if it’s done well.

Recruiters and HR managers use phone interviews to weed out unacceptable candidates and narrow the field before making a final hiring decision. So, it’s important to be well prepared and not take this step lightly. Avoid these faux pas:

1. Having a Poor Connection

Test your connection before dialing in to your interview. There’s nothing more frustrating for an interviewer than having to repeat the same question over and over because they can’t understand your answer due to static or a dropped signal.

  • If you’re using a cell phone, make sure you’re in a spot where your signal is strong.
  • Don’t take the call on speakerphone. Though it may help you to take notes or glance at your resume while talking, it may make it more difficult for your interviewer to hear you. Consider using a reliable headset instead.

2. Allowing Distractions to Interfere

During a phone interview, your sole focus should be on the voice at the other end of the line. Take the call in a quiet place away from children, pets, the television or any other noises or distractions that may break your concentration.

  • Plan your environment in advance. The more time you spend anticipating what could go wrong, the better organized you’ll be – and your prospective employer will pick up on this strength.

3. Dressing Inappropriately

Set yourself up for success, just as you would for a face-to-face interview. This includes paying careful attention to what you wear – even though the people or persons with whom you’re speaking can’t see you.

  • Wearing professional attire will make you feel confident and help you to deliver more poised, professional responses. Sweatpants may be tempting, but this isn’t a situation where you’re supposed to be completely at ease.

4. Multitasking During Your Interview

It may be tempting to cross other items off your to-do list while on a phone interview, but a recruiter can instantly tell if your attention is elsewhere. Talent managers have reported that they’ve had candidates wash dishes, microwave meals, go for walks and even use the bathroom during phone interviews.

  • Paying attention to anything other than the interview doesn’t reflect well on your level of interest in the job.
  • This includes not browsing the Internet. While it may be helpful to have a browser open in case you need to check a quick fact, ideally you should limit this to one window only. Have your cover letter and resume printed out ahead of time.

5. Interviewing from Your Current Job

If a company wants to schedule your phone interview during your regular work hours, plan it during lunch or at the end of a day when you can leave early. Find a quiet place away from your office.

  • You may think your secluded office or cubicle will work. You would be wrong. It’s too risky. Someone could walk in and interrupt you or worse, overhear and figure out what’s going on. If it’s going to be too difficult to take the call, consider rescheduling for a better time.

Are you looking for a new job?

You deserve a great new job – so allow the executive search consultants at TRC Professional Solutions to help you find it. Contact us today about your next consulting, contract-to-hire or permanent career opportunity.


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